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Help and support for carers

You don’t have to do it all yourself, but it can be hard to know what support is available and how to get it. There are lots of different kinds of support for carers and you may find some more useful than others.

Support available to you as a carer

This is normally described as "social care" and is part of the support you may be able to get through your local authority. There are also private firms and voluntary sector organisations you can access without having to go through social services – your local carers centre will be able to give you details of these.

It took me ages and ages before I told anyone about my dad’s diagnosis for the simple reason of me being very shy about things. When I eventually did open to people, I found it very helpful and people were so understanding and kind.

A quote from a member of our Online Community

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What are my options if I need to give up work?

It can be really difficult to balance your caring responsibilities with your job, and people often feel that they need to give up work. But this is a big decision. Not only can this sometimes make you feel more isolated, as you lose contact with colleagues and friends, but it can also have a financial impact on both your income now and your pension in the future.

Before you decide to give up work, it is worth talking to your employer, as you have certain rights that are protected in law, and there may be some options that mean you don’t have to give up work completely.

Options if you need to give up work

If you’re caring for someone, you’re entitled by law to request flexible working. Flexible working doesn’t necessarily mean part-time hours – you may be able to work the same hours but at times that suit you, such as evenings or weekends, or to work "core hours" with a flexible start and finish time, or perhaps to work from home.

Carers UK has helpful further information about this option.

Can I take a break or leave the house?

Getting out of the house is important, not only because there may be tasks that you need to do, like getting some shopping, but also as part of taking a break from your caring responsibilities and looking after yourself. Sometimes you may be able to ask other family members or friends to share some of the responsibility, but there are also lots of other ways you can get support to enable you to go out.

If the person you are caring for is willing and able to, they may be able to attend a local day centre, or, if they prefer to stay at home, you may be able to use a local befriending scheme, where a volunteer will come and sit with them.

This person is not a trained health professional, but is a volunteer with additional training who can provide emotional support to you both. If you need to pay for a carer, there is a benefit called Attendance Allowance which is a regular payment made to the person who is unwell designed to cover the additional costs of being ill, and which you can use to pay for a carer (as well as other things, such as if you need a taxi or extra heating).

If you need a longer break, the person you are caring for may be able to stay in a care home for a short period (this is called respite care). This can normally be arranged quite quickly if you need it.

You are also entitled to ask your local council for a carer’s assessment. The Council will use this to identify what support you need and to discuss with you how this can be provided.

What is available varies from area to area and also depends on people's illness and the stage they're at, but there are generally a wide range of resources and support available wherever you live. Speak to your lead health professional and they can advise and help you find the right support.

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