Today is Carers Rights’ Day, which helps carers know their rights and find the help and support they’re entitled to. But with 6,000 people a day starting to look after a family member or friend, some of us may not even realise we’ve actually become carers in the first place.
Are you a daughter? A son? A wife, husband or partner? A friend? Are you looking after your mother, father, partner, or a friend who is frail or has reduced mobility?
Maybe they have dementia, a short-term illness, a physical disability or learning difficulties and are in need of support to continue living safely at home?
If so, then you’re also a carer.
Know your rights
This might not be how you think of yourself, but research from Carers UK shows that each day, 6,000 people start caring for a family member or friend, so you’re far from alone.
Recognising your role as a carer is important so that you can get the right help and support. The carers’ hub on Which? Elderly Care is designed to support everyone in this emotional and stressful time.
Under certain circumstances there are benefits available for carers, too.
What does a carer do?
There is no set ‘job description’ for a carer, as every caring situation is different. The needs of the person you are caring for, the help you provide, and your personal circumstances will all shape your own unique role.
Carers come in all different age groups, too. You might be a pensioner caring for your partner or friend, an adult supporting your parent, or a child providing care for a sibling.
The way you become a carer can also vary. In some situations, you might have to take on caring responsibilities overnight if a family member is taken ill; in other cases, your caring role might gradually evolve over time.
Similarly, how much time you spend with your relative or friend can also be very different depending on your circumstances.
You might be a carer looking after your partner in the home the two of you share. Or perhaps you live separately, but spend time with the person you care for every day, or even just pop in once a week.
In some cases, you might feel responsible for your friend and relative, but live miles away. Sometimes you’re the sole carer, but in other cases, you’re one of several family members helping to look after the same person.
If you’re a carer, what’s your experience of caring? Is there a support group or someone else that has helped you? Has your employer been understanding? Or, if you know someone else who is a carer, what’s their experience been like?