Help for Carers
Whether we’re new to caring or been at it a while, having the right help as carers can really enhance our lives. Browse our A-Z guide which covers support for carers across the UK. Including the key practical, emotional and financial support for carers.
We should warn you now - this guide is a bit of a beast. It’s intended to be comprehensive, so that you can find anything and everything you may need.
If you find it overwhelming you might find our simple email course more suitable. We send you five emails, covering the essentials of caring, over the course of just over a week. And you can digest each of them in your own time.
Why do carer's need help and support?
If we’re already caring, we might be well aware of the challenges caring can present for us.
But many of us find that caring creeps up on us, or we are thrown into a caring situation after a hospital discharge. Either way, we can feel caught out and suddenly find we’re spinning far too many plates.
Ultimately caring presents itself in a whole range of forms, from checking the fridge and helping with appointments, all the way up to full time personal and medical care. As a result our need for help and support is completely individual - just one of the reasons carer’s assessments exist.
At its core though, caring can be isolating and a minefield to navigate - a trusted helping hand can make it all the easier, less lonely and frustrating
Support organisations for carers
Here is a list of UK-wide services and resources that carers have shared that have been helpful for support in our caring roles:
Condition-specific support - it can be helpful to talk to people who really understand the specific diagnosis the person we care for has, and the caring needs this brings. Additionally as carers, many of us have our own health concerns, so it can be helpful to reach out for specialist support.
Mobilise - We’re across the whole of the UK, offering support online in our carers’ community, through our guides, and in our cuppas - to name a couple.
Contact - Support for families with children and young people with additional needs
MacMillan Nurses - Support for cancer patients and their families
Database of Hospices across the UK - End of life care and support for long term conditions
Marie Curie Nurses and helpers - Support with terminal illness
GoodGym - Support for our physical wellbeing through sports
Carers UK - National organisation campaigning for carers’ rights
What help is available for carers?
There are various types of carer support available to us in our caring role. And the support we need may change over time.
When we’re new to caring, it’s hard to identify what support would help. Some ‘carer support’ may not seem obvious. For example, hiring a gardener or cleaner to help us stay on top of our own home. Or a gym membership to support our wellbeing.
Emotional support for carers
As unpaid carers, access to the right emotional support can be life changing. There are many emotions carers go through - sometimes all of them in one day! And some emotions hit us over and over again.
Such as grief.
From anticipatory grief of what will or might happen after we receive a diagnosis, grieving the loss of a future we thought we had.
To grief as we slowly ‘lose’ the person we care for to their illness. Or grief at every transition - our disabled child at that point they would have gone to secondary school, or learnt to drive. Grief as we lose the marital bed to a hospital bed. Grief as we lose our own home and move in. Grief at the loss of our freedom and plans. Grief at the very end of our caring role.
Other emotions carers talk about a lot, include guilt and resentment. Even when we love the person we care for dearly (and we don’t always), we can still be managing and processing some difficult feelings.
The emotional toll of caring is complex, personal and ever changing.
There are many ways we can receive emotional support, and it is worth exploring what works for us.
Carer support groups
Peer support groups are often face-to-face but more are becoming online.
And in the Mobilise Community of unpaid carers, we share wisdom, tips and hacks daily. Come and join in the conversations. 😉
Your local Carers’ Centre may offer face to face coffee mornings, providing an opportunity to meet other local carers. An online group may be helpful if we find it difficult to leave our home or have limited time.
There is some great advice on successful carer support groups. On finding the right group for you, and how we can contribute positively to a successful group.
If you’re ready to ‘dip your toe’ in a carer support group, you might like to join one of our Mobilise cuppas.
Friends and family support
Our friends and family can also be great networks of support. Whether it be emotional support for us to ‘rant’, or practical support to alleviate us from some caring tasks.
Having a whole family approach to caring can reassure us that we are not alone as carers. And that we are also being supported as carers, while supporting someone else.
It may be difficult at times for us to ask those close to us for help. Sometimes out of fear of being a burden. Or maybe due to presumed ‘roles’ we each play. But if we don’t ask, we won’t know the outcome.
Often, it turns out that our friends and family are indeed more than happy to help - there is no harm in asking. They often just don’t know what to do, or how to help. So perhaps sharing our “10 ways friends and family can help” would be a good starting point.
Of course, many of us can feel isolated from friends and family. For those of us who feel we have no one to reach out to, then accessing peer support groups can be a good starting point.
Counsellors and therapists supporting carers
A counsellor is a person who is trained to listen and give us advice on any personal worries we may have.
The Counselling Directory is a great place to start. With the option to look for in-person, online or email counselling. Covering carer support, and even young carers.
Carers Federation also offers counselling for carers of any age. Providing emotional support to help us improve the quality of relationships we may find challenging to maintain in our lives.
And their support services can take place in a venue that suits you.
Our local Carers’ Centre
Your local Carers’ Centre will provide carers with information and advice we may need during our caring role.
These include helping us to identify which benefits we may be entitled to, what we need to know about advocacy or filling out forms.
This is only a snapshot of what local Carers’ Centres offer as their statutory duty to look after carers. Find out what the other 10 ways your local Carers’ Centre can support you are.
How to get carer support
A Carer’s Assessment is one way of accessing support on a more formal basis, and is something that all carers have a right to. Your GP can arrange a Carer’s Assessment.
It’s a good idea to find out more about the Carer’s Assessments and how we can prepare, before we go.
Citizens Advice also covers a range of useful advice for carers across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Financial support for carers
There are many reasons we may find ourselves needing financial support as a carer.
Many of us may have had to reduce the hours we work or we may have to give up work entirely. This has a huge impact on our finances and our future financial stability.
Some of us move in with the person we care for. This might mean we lose our property entitlement if we have a home through our Local Authority. And if the person we care for lives in a Local Authority property and it’s in their name, this can cause problems when the person we care for passes away.
Aside from this, the fact that many of us have to give up work, means that paying our bills, finding enough money to feed ourselves, heating our homes or even having a bit of fun, gets harder.
So financial help or benefits for carers, is something it’s very helpful to be aware of. Benefits that can help carers include:
The main financial benefit for carers is Carer’s Allowance. We can apply for Carer’s Allowance if we are giving at least 35 hours of care, and earning less than £132 per week.
Our Carer’s Allowance mini-checker and guide can get you started with your claim.
We must be caring for someone with a qualifying benefit, such as Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance.
Carer’s Credit is a class three National Insurance credit that counts towards benefits, such as our state pension. This is really helpful, if we have had to reduce our working hours to care for someone.
If we’re caring for someone for a minimum of 20 hours per week and under the State Pension age, we may be eligible.
If we are already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, we will automatically receive Carer’s Credit, and do not need to apply.
The person we care for must be receiving a qualifying disability benefit for us to apply for Carer’s Allowance.
Attendance Allowance is one of these qualifying disability benefits (for the person we care for, rather than for us). It can be used to help them pay for the costs to meet their care needs or stay in their own home. Such as paying for taxis, a cleaner or a carer. This may reduce the amount of care we feel we need to provide ourselves.
Carer’s Assessments can lead to some budget
If we’re over 18 years old and providing unpaid care for another adult, then we’re entitled to request a Carer’s Assessment from our local authority.
Find out how a Carer’s Assessment may be able to benefit you. Get started right away with our comprehensive guide and free mini carer’s assessment to help us prepare for our real assessment.
Financial support for carers in winter
There are many financial support options available for carers during winter.
Did you know we have three different heating benefits in the UK?
More financial support for carers
If we find ourselves in a difficult situation regarding our finances, here are three useful services to consider:
Citizens Advice has lots of advice, including information on rent arrears and eviction for rent arrears.
StepChange is a debt charity that provides free debt advice online, supporting us throughout the process.
Condition-specific support for carers
Sometimes it can be super helpful to hook up with people that really understand the condition, illness or disability the person we care for has.
For example, perhaps there is a specific challenge with eating, foul language or inappropriate behaviour connected with their condition.
A condition-specific support organisation is most likely to have support tools with these specific challenges in mind. Helping both the person we care for, but also helping us to manage some very challenging situations.
Practical support for carers
Sometimes we just need a bit of practical support as a carer. A hoist to save our back. A gym membership so we can keep physically and mentally well. A personal alarm for a piece of mind. A ramp or some grab rails in the bath.
Practical support can save our backs, give us peace of mind, keep the person we care for more independent and give us a break! Sometimes there are practical solutions that can really help us.
This might include:
Sometimes there is a simple bit of clever kit or equipment that can make our caring role easier.
From a raised chair to make sitting down and getting up easier. To a wheelchair, making trips out possible. Or maybe an adaptive kettle with an easy to grip handle, meaning tea making can stay independent. The right bit of kit can make all the difference.
There are some organisations who can help with ideas and solutions, including:
An Occupational Therapist will visit the home the person we care for lives in. They’ll take a look around with you and together you can discuss what solutions would help. It’s important to share everything we find difficult, to support the best outcome.
Money Helper has lots of advice on accessing funding for home adaptations.
A break from caring
Taking time off for ourselves as carers is super important.
However, it can be hard to find the opportunity, for a myriad of reasons. Our ‘carer’s guide to respite’ maps out everything we need to know about respite, where to look and what the process of arranging one looks like.
Our guide ‘how to care for yourself when there’s no time to care for yourself' can help, while we seek those bigger caring breaks.
Support for carers of dementia patients
When we’re caring for someone with dementia, there can be some very specific challenges. From accepting the diagnosis to their changing behaviour or decline. From when they begin requiring personal care, to decisions about ‘where the care’ should happen, and how we feel about or even access care homes.
With all this in mind, it can be helpful to reach out to organisations that really understand the condition.
Carers in the Mobilise community have recommended:
For support with Dementia - Admiral nurses
Online discussion forums such as Dementia Talking Point allows us to seek practical tips or simply offload our emotions with other carers of dementia patients. The flexibility of online forums means we can join any time for free, whenever we need to.
For support for carers dealing with end of life care for a person with dementia.
Support for carers of mental health
Those of us caring for someone with a mental health condition may be less likely to identify as a carer.
In reality, we also need support, ourselves.
Our carers’ guide to mental health caring is a good start to wrap our heads around how we can go about doing so.
There are also other organisations that can support us:
Mind - offer support for our own mental health.
Young Minds - offer mental health support to young adult carers, including young parent carers.
Samaritans - when immediate support is needed.
No panic - offer resources on managing anxiety, panic, anxiety, O.C.D and phobias.
Carer support and respite
Taking a break is such a vital tool in keeping our own physical and mental health in check.
But, and it’s a huge but. It can be one of the hardest things to manage. Breaks give us a mental rest as well as a physical rest. They give us time to replenish and they give us time to do the things WE love. Having access to breaks means we might be less likely to build up feelings of resentment in our caring role, or to reach carer burnout.
Sometimes the question is not why do we need a break, but how do we get a break from caring?
Our Carer’s guide to respite is a great starting point. Built with carers’ inputs, you can find out what funding there is for respite.
Here are respite services we may want to look at:
Revitalise - supporting disabled people and their carers to go on holiday together.
Carefree - transforms vacant accommodation into vital breaks for unpaid carers
After Umbrage - short term respite holiday accommodation free of charge to those caring for loved ones with life limiting and terminal conditions. Also welcoming carers in their first 12 months of bereavement.
The Respite Association - a limited number of carer holidays with a holiday cottage and carers' retreat.
Your local carers centre may also have details of holidays and breaks in your area.
It’s helpful to know that a break doesn’t have to mean a week away (although that would be nice). Sometimes it’s having a couple of hours to meet a friend for a coffee, or go to the gym.
And while we’re working out how to take a break, these tips on caring for ourselves (when there is no time) may help.
Support for carers near me
We can also browse for more local support here.
Many local areas have their own community led Facebook groups too - some specifically for carers. So it’s worth having a search. It can be a great way to meet other people locally and share advice. We have some tips on finding a safe peer support group, and as an unpaid carer you’re invited to join our own friendly Facebook group.
You've made it this far!
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