Caring

When you’re caring for someone, it can be easy to put their needs above your own. But it’s important you take action to look after yourself too.

Use this action plan to make the most of the support that’s out there, so you have the time, energy and money to live your life well.

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How to get support while caring

Find out what you can start doing to get the support you need as a carer.

  • Read our guide about caring

    Understanding your rights as a carer is your first step to getting support. If you haven’t already, read our guide
  • Get a needs assessment

    Contact your local authority for a free needs assessment of the person you’re caring for, as well as a carer’s assessment of your own needs.
     
    These assessments aim to consider both your needs to see what can be done to make life easier for you. For example, you’ll be asked about your health and how well you’re coping. The assessments will also look at whether you have the right equipment and aids to help you in your day-to-day tasks. Visit Carers UK to find out more about getting assessments.
     
    If you’ve already had an assessment but don’t believe the outcome is fair, you can challenge it.  
  • Ask for support from your employer

    Ask your employer what they are able to do to help support your dual role of carer and employee. Many organisations have support systems in place for working carers and even if they don't are often able to reduce your working hours or offer flexible working and reasonable adjustment.
     
    You could also ask for a career break if you need it. Many organisations also have employee-led networks made up of other people like you who are juggling their job and their caring responsibilities. Ask your HR department, or work colleagues if they know of any suitable networks you could join. 
  • Check which benefits are available for carers

    Find out which benefits are available to people who are carers or who are cared for.
     
    Carers often experience financial hardship as a result of their caring, by maximising your income you might be able to fund a break from caring, or help to pay for an agency nurse to give you respite.  
     
    If the person you care for has mobility problems, you may also be entitled to a blue badge so you can park in spaces assigned for those with a disability.
     
    Get more information from the NHS about accessing benefits for carers
  • Consider getting power of attorney

    If you think the person you care for might lose the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves, find out about setting up a 'power of attorney'.
     
    Anyone who’s 18 or older and has the mental ability to make decisions for themselves can arrange a power of attorney. This gives someone else the right to make these decisions for them in the future. To find out how to do this, go to Carers UK.
     
    Do keep in mind that the person must set up a power of attorney while they still have the ability to make their own decisions. If they lose this capacity, no-one else can make it for them.
  • Find out about aids, equipment and adaptions

    Find out more about the wide and increasing range of equipment, aids and adaptions to help you manage as a carer.
     
    When you have your local authority assessment, ask if there are any aids or equipment for the specific assistance you need. For example, if you need help lifting, a bed hoist or a walk-in bath might help. Alternatively, they might be able to offer someone to come in and take on the lifting task for you. Some carers’ organisations and local authorities can also offer you training in lifting techniques to minimise any negative physical impact you might have. 
     
    A stair lift, grab rails or even easy-grip kitchen utensils might also be things to consider. In many cases, you can obtain healthcare-related equipment free of charge from the NHS and equipment to help with daily living from your local council. 
  • Register as a carer with your GP

    Making sure your GP is aware of your situation will mean they can offer you access to support, for example local carer groups.  If you become anxious or stressed due to the emotional demands of your caring role your GP will be aware of the background and will be better able to help refer you for counselling or other support.  
     
    When you’re busy caring for someone else, it can also be hard to find time to visit your doctor. But caring can be physically and emotionally draining, so it’s also important you look after yourself - schedule time for a regular check up with your GP.
  • Schedule breaks from caring

    Make a formal plan to get a break from caring. As part of this plan, ensure you make time to help you connect with others. Caring can be lonely and it's important to your wellbeing to socialise and do something just for you, a hobby for example. 
     
    You might also find talking to others in a similar situation helpful. There are a number of online forums that let you connect with others to share your experiences, frustrations and tips.
  • Seek help from others

    Ask your GP or carers' organisation about support groups you can attend in your area, and look for condition-specific as well as general carers’ groups. Contact Carers UK, the Carers Trust or the Include Programme (for young carers), they may be able to organise for someone to come and help you regularly, or they may help you fund some private care. 
     
    Write a list of friends and family, think about what they can do, and start asking them to help.  Perhaps by helping to take on some of your caring responsibilities, or by doing practical things like doing your weekly shop, or perhaps even having a regular chat about your feelings.

    Read more about getting a break from caring here
  • Source counselling for emotional support

    Ask your GP or your local carers’ group about counselling to help you manage the transition to becoming a carer and to provide you with ongoing support.
     
    Taking on a caring role for someone with whom you have an established relationship can happen suddenly – through illness or accident – or creep up slowly. Adjusting to these changing roles in your relationship is a big emotional step. And it can be especially hard if you help them with personal or intimate care. There can be so many practical things to do, that it can be easy to push these feelings down, but if you’re struggling to manage, there's help available.  

Next steps

Making a plan and sticking to it will help you take steps to look after yourself as well as the person you care for. Use our actions to set up your own to-do list to help you cope.