A carer is someone who regularly cares for a person who is unable to take care of themselves or do some everyday tasks independently due to an illness or disability. Many carers do not see themselves as such, as they are often a spouse, parent or daughter, or close friend or relative helping a loved one.
However, it is important to know that if you are spending a few hours a day, or your whole day, caring for another person, there are support services in place to help you with your duties.
A carer’s responsibilities may include:
– Personal Care
The person you care for may be unable to look after their personal health independently, so may need assistance using the toilet and bathing themselves. Whilst this can be an embarrassing topic for people, it is important that they are receiving the proper assistance if they cannot look after themselves. If you or the person you are caring for feels uncomfortable with these tasks, you can seek professional assistance.
– Practical Care
Many carers assume the role of providing practical care and support to a loved one. This can include a huge range of tasks, from cleaning the house and preparing meals, to doing their weekly shopping, taking care of bills, and making sure the person you care for makes any appointments and arrangements they may need.
If you are caring for someone with a disability or illness, often the emotional support you provide by simply keeping them company can be invaluable. You may simply care for someone by sitting with them and having a conversation – for people who are unable to leave the house on their own, this can be a huge boost to their mental well-being and is not a responsibility to be undermined!
What help is available for carers?
There are a number of support services and benefits available to carers in the UK. These can include:
Emotional support for carers
Whether you simply need someone you can reach out to and talk to regularly, or are in need of professional counselling services, you are entitled to this type of emotional support as a carer.
Financial support for carers
Carers are entitled to a range of benefits and financial support, depending on your individual circumstances. If you are an unpaid carer, you may be entitled to:
- Carer’s allowance
- Carer’s credit
Social support for carers
When providing care for someone else, it’s important that you also make sure you are taking time out to care for yourself, too. This may require support from a professional service or from your support network to ensure that you are getting adequate time out from your role.
Likewise, you may find you are able to get more practical support in day-to-day tasks that you don’t have time for currently. This could include things such as cleaning, grocery shopping, gardening, laundry etc.
How to access support services as a carer?
In order to access the support services you need, you will first need to request a carer’s assessment. This can be done by contacting your local council, and is a service available to any carer over the age of 18.
A carer’s assessment gives you an opportunity to talk with a social worker about the type of support you may need in your role as a carer, and what could be done to help you. It’s a good idea to take note of how your role as a carer impacts your life currently, and what support you would really benefit from.
If you qualify for help, your social worker will supply you with a support plan that provides access to the necessary support you are entitled to.
What support is available for young carers?
Young carers are still able to request a carer’s assessment, but your rights will be considered differently to a carer who is over 18.
As a carer under 18, your local council is duty-bound to identify young carers in the area, and assess the impact of providing care on the child. A carer’s assessment for young carers will consider whether it is appropriate for you to continue providing care and if you wish to do so, as well as considering education, training, work, and other activities a young carer may wish to have time to take part in.
If you are a young carer and would like further support in your role, contact your local council to request that your needs and role as a carer is reviewed to ensure you are getting the support you need. Find out more about support for young carers via Carers UK.
If you’re a self-employed carer, own an organisation that employs carers, or receive direct payments to hire your own care, you would benefit from carer’s insurance to cover you should anything happen while working.
Take a look at our carers insurance guide to find out why every carer should go to work insured.