Every day, another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility and, by 2037, it’s anticipated that the number of carers in the UK will increase to 9 million.
To coincide with Carers Week 2018, Independent Age, the older people’s charity, has launched a new, free advice guide to help people identify as carers, and access the practical, financial and emotional support available to them.
The guide, called ‘Caring for someone: How to get the support you need’, is suitable for anyone who might be a carer. It explains carers rights, and the benefits, services and support available to help look after someone else. It also looks at what happens when a caring role ends.
Caring can be a positive experience but can also be emotionally and physically challenging. Many older carers have long-term health problems or a disability themselves. ‘Caring for someone’ contains information and advice for everyone, regardless of how much care they provide, including how to apply for a carer’s assessment, which can assess the impact of a caring role on your wellbeing.
‘Caring for someone’ is free to order and download from www.independentage.org/caring-for-someone, or can be ordered for free by calling 0800 319 6789.
To make a donation or find out more about how you can support the work of Independent Age and help older people stay independent, please visit www.independentage.org.
Advice and support for carers
Lucy Harmer, Director of Services at Independent Age, the older people’s charity, gives her expert tips on the practical, financial and emotional support available to carers. The charity has launched a new advice guide, called ‘Caring for someone: How to get the support you need’, which can be ordered for free via https://www.independentage.org/caring-for-someone or by calling 0800 319 6789.
1. Recognise that you’re a carer
Many people who look after someone else don’t realise that they are carers. If you’re looking after someone regularly to help them with their daily life because they’re ill or disabled, or can’t manage without your support, then you may be a carer. If you’re not sure, our guide ‘Caring for someone: How to get the support you need’ could help you find out.
2. Get a Carer’s Assessment
If you provide unpaid care for a friend or family member, you have a right to a free carer’s assessment. Contact the adult social services department of your local council to arrange one. If you’d like to talk to someone about your carer’s assessment and how to prepare, contact our free Helpline (0800 319 6789,independentage.org) and arrange to speak to an adviser.
3. Apply for Carer’s Allowance
Caring for someone, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time, can take a toll on your finances. If you’re caring for a family member or a friend for 35 hours or more a week, you may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance and other extra money. You can download a claim form or claim online at gov.uk/carers-allowance/how-to-claim or phone the Carer’s Allowance Unit (0800 731 0297) to ask for a claim form.
4. Tell your GP that you are a carer
Ask your GP to make a note on your records. Your GP can give you advice and information about the medical condition of the person you look after. They may also put you in touch with support services provided by the NHS and other local sources of support and advice.
5. Make sure the person you’re looking after is getting all the help they’re entitled to
Ask social services for a care needs assessment for the person you’re looking after if they haven’t already had one, to see if they qualify for council help. And check that they’re getting all the benefits they’re entitled to. If they have a long-term health condition or disability they may qualify for Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, depending on their age. See our factsheets on these benefits for more information.
6. Look after yourself as well
Being a carer can be emotionally and physically demanding. You may be so busy looking after someone else that you neglect your own health. It’s important that you take good care of yourself for your own sake but also to give you the strength to go on caring. Try to eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, and get enough rest. If you’re having trouble sleeping, speak to your GP.
7. Create time for yourself
Make sure you get a regular break from caring, even if it’s only 10 minutes. It’s important for your quality of life to find time to do the things you enjoy. You could ask family or friends to help. Telecare can help keep the person you look after safe and give you peace of mind when you’re not with them. You may also be able to arrange respite care to give you a regular break or for a longer period to give you the chance to go on holiday.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Charities and carers’ networks can be an invaluable source of practical and emotional support. They understand the challenges you face and can give you the chance to talk to people who are in a similar position. For more information, contact Carers UK (0808 808 7777, carersuk.org) or the Carers Trust (0300 772 9600, carers.org).
9. Ask your local council about aids and adaptations
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.
10. Make a plan to deal with emergencies
You need to know that care would be put in place quickly in an emergency, if you became ill or were admitted to 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 an emergency plan by writing down the name, address and other contact details of the person you care for, who you would like to be contacted in an emergency, any medication the person you care for is taking, and any ongoing care or health treatment they need.