Am I a carer?
If you help another person in their day-to-day life who would struggle to cope without your support, you may be a carer. You might:
- help them get washed and dressed, or to use the toilet
- make sure they have enough to eat and drink
- take them to the doctor and to other appointments
- help them around their home, for example, helping them to use stairs safely or carry out household chores
- help them to see their family, friends or attend social activities
- make sure they take their medication at the right time.
The person you look after could be your partner, friend, neighbour or family member and you might just think of it as part of your relationship.
Everyone has different circumstances. For example, you may be a couple who are caring for each other, or you might not live with the person you're caring for at all.
Whatever your situation, if you’re providing support to someone that isn’t part of paid or voluntary work, you may be entitled to some help as well.
Getting support as a carer
Caring for someone can be rewarding but it can also be hard work, and at times it may seem overwhelming. You might feel a mixture of emotions such as guilt, resentment, sadness and frustration. It’s important to recognise how you’re feeling and that it’s okay to feel this way.
You shouldn’t feel worried or unsure about asking for help and support. The first step to getting help is to ask for a carer's assessment from your local council. See our factsheet Getting help from the council as a carer to find out more.
Caring from a distance
If the person you’re caring for lives a long way from you, it can be difficult to stay on top of things. Travelling is tiring and time-consuming, and can be costly.
Make sure the person you’re caring for has had a care needs assessment from their local council. This will work out what their care needs are and whether they qualify for any care and support from the council. They may benefit from care at home from a paid care worker and there may be other local services that could help them.
Getting online can be helpful for ordering shopping and managing finances. It’s also a good way to stay in touch with the person you’re caring for if they’re also online. If you or the person you care for are not confident internet users, ask about free or low-cost courses at your local library or Online Centre.
There may come a time when you want to consider other options. Perhaps the person you care for could move closer to you or even move in with you. See our guide Choosing where to live for more information.
Caring and work
If you’re finding it difficult to juggle work and caring responsibilities, you usually have the right to request flexible working if you’ve been with your employer for at least six months. This can include:
- working from home
- part-time work
- working compressed hours
- job sharing
- shift work.
You also have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with unexpected events or an emergency such as a breakdown in care arrangements. Contact Acas or Carers UK for advice about your rights at work.
If you’re sharing caring responsibilities with other friends or family members, you’ll need to be organised and keep in touch so you know who’s doing what. You could make use of technology to organise care between you, using shared calendars for example, or the Jointly App developed by Carers UK. There’s a small charge for setting up the app.
If you’d like more help from other relatives or friends but don’t know how to ask, read our tips on starting the conversation.