Ask for a carer’s assessment
A carer's assessment works out what your support needs are and whether you qualify for any help from the council. You can arrange one before you start caring or while you’re caring.
If you qualify for support, the local council might provide care and support to the person you care for or provide you with support directly. This could include:
- practical help with things like housework or gardening
- advice about benefits
- leisure activities, such as gym membership
- training to help you feel more confident in your caring role, such as moving and handling training
- emotional support from other carers, such as attending a local carers group
- breaks from caring (called respite care).
Whether or not you qualify for council help, the council must give you information and advice about other support options you could explore.
For more information, read our factsheet Getting help from the council as a carer.
Apply for Carer’s Allowance
This is the main benefit available to carers. For more information on who qualifies for this, read our webpage about Carer’s Allowance.
You may also qualify for other financial support. For example, if you get Carer's Allowance, you could get extra money added to a means-tested benefit, such as Pension Credit.
You could also get grants from charities to help with costs. Get in touch with Turn2us for more information about grants and discount schemes for carers.
For advice on financial support you can get as a carer, read our guide Caring for someone.
Contact carers' organisations
You might be able to get support from the following organisations:
Get in touch with other carers
You might want to speak to other people who understand your situation.
Carers’ organisations may run groups where you can meet other carers. For example, Carers UK has an online forum where you can share experience and tips with others. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.
Organisations offering support for people with specific illnesses – for example, arthritis, cancer, dementia, Parkinson's or stroke – may also run carers’ groups where you can meet other carers. Get in touch with them to find out more.
Speak to your GP
Tell your GP that you’re a carer and ask them to make a note of this on your records. Your GP can give you information about the medical condition of the person you look after, as well as advice about any physical or mental health issues you may have as a carer. They may put you in touch with support services provided by the NHS and other local sources of support and advice.
Your GP could also:
- arrange medical appointments for you and the person you care for at the same time so you only have to make one visit
- arrange for repeat prescriptions to be delivered to your local pharmacy or home
- provide letters of support to help you claim benefits - some GPs charge for this.
You also qualify for a free flu jab if you’re caring for someone who may be at risk if you become ill – speak to your GP about this.
Caring can take a toll on your own health so it’s important you look after yourself as well.
Ask about aids, adaptations and technology
Different types of equipment or home adaptations can make your life easier and help the person you’re looking after to stay safe and independent. If their council assessment shows that they need an aid or minor adaptation (one that costs less than £1,000 to install), the council must provide this for free. There may be grants available for larger adaptations. Read our factsheet Adapting your home to stay independent for more information.
Technology can help the person you care for to live safely at home and give you peace of mind. You could get:
- telecare – alarms and sensors which can detect a range of problems, for example, if they fall out of bed or leave a tap running
- telehealth – a way of monitoring someone’s health remotely through equipment they have in their home.
Read our factsheet Technology to help you at home to find out more.
You may be able to get telecare as part of a package from your council or you may have to pay for it privately. Contact the Disabled Living Foundation for information about what may be available.
Make an emergency plan
You need to know that care would be put in place quickly in an emergency – for example, if you became ill or had to go into hospital. If the person you care for receives help from the council, emergency plans should be included in their care and support plan. If not, you can create one by writing down:
- the name, address and contact details of the person you care for
- who you’d like to be contacted in an emergency
- any medication the person you care for is taking
- any ongoing care or medical treatment they need.
In some areas, there are carer’s emergency card schemes. You can register and get help to draw up an emergency plan. You’ll be given a card with an emergency phone number on to carry with you. If you’re unable to provide care in an emergency, you can ring the number and the operator will put your emergency plan into action.
Ask your council or a local carers’ organisation if there is a scheme in your area.
The person you’re caring for may want to consider putting in place powers of attorney. This would mean you can help them make certain decisions, such as financial decisions, or make them on their behalf in the future if they are unable to do so. For more information, read our factsheet Managing my affairs if I become ill.
Taking a break
Being a carer can be exhausting and you’ll probably need to take a break from time to time. Respite care allows carers time off by providing temporary care – it comes in many forms including:
- care services at home
- day care centres
- short-term stays in care homes
- sitting services.
Ask your local council for help to arrange respite care.
To find details of your local council, go to Gov.uk.