Ask for a carer’s assessment
This assessment is carried out by the local council to work out whether you qualify for any help from them. You can arrange one before you start caring or while you’re caring. For more information, see our factsheet Getting help from the council as a carer.
If you qualify for support, your 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.
Whether or not you’re eligible for council help, the council must give you information and advice about other support options you could explore.
Apply for Carer’s Allowance
This is the main benefit available to carers. For more information on who qualifies for this, see our information about Carer’s Allowance.
Contact carers' organisations
The following organisations can give you support:
- Carers UK – provides an advice service and might be able to put you in touch with local support groups
- Carers Trust – provides information, home care and local support services for carers
- Carers Direct – a comprehensive national information service for carers.
Get in touch with other carers
You might want to speak to other people who understand your situation. Carers’ organisations and illness-specific organisations may run carers’ groups where you can meet other carers. Contact them to find out.
Carers Trust runs carers’ centres nationwide and offers practical, flexible personal support – it may be free, depending on where you live – and there is an online forum on Carers UK. You can also find details of local carers’ services on the NHS choices website.
Speak to your GP
Tell your GP that you are a carer and ask them to make a note of this on your records. Your GP can give you advice and information about the medical condition of the person you look after. 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.
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 the council assesses them as needing 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. See our factsheet Adapting your home to stay independent for more information.
Technology can help the person you look after to live safely at home and give you peace of mind. Telecare consists of alarms and sensors which can detect a range of problems, for example if they fall out of bed while you’re sleeping. Telehealth is a way of monitoring someone’s health remotely through equipment they have in their home. See 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 – if you became ill or had to go into hospital for example. 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 so 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, see 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/find-local-council