/ Health, Parenting

Do you know if you’re a carer?

caring

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.

It sets out what carers are entitled to by way of support from the government including a free assessment of your needs, and your rights at work.

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.

Whatever your circumstances, if you need to talk to someone for support, contact the Carers UK Adviceline. You can also read our advice on Which? Elderly Care.

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?

Comments
Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I have had plenty of emails from the regional Carers society to attend meeting s but I live a long way away from them , so that takes time and time is not what you have when you are looking after someone 24/7 . You cannot just “up and out ” when leaving your wife could mean something happens and you are the one to blame , when you have no relatives within 50 miles to help you . Add to that any benefits are removed when you get to a certain age and you are left to rely on your small fixed income , in many people it speeds up their demise from this life as they cant afford basic things like heating,food, etc . So life is a struggle for people like me , you dont get time off , there is no overtime pay nor a break at the weekends from work. What you have is resignation to a permanent job that could see your life out , maybe thats the motive in modern society , got to help the national Debt havent we ? dont be a burden on society , that seems to be the impression , while what you get through the door are envelops that look official but craftily want to take your last few ££ to pay shareholders of funeral insurance companies but I do enjoy burning them you have to have some pleasure in life . My wife doesn’t like social workers so they are not an option , in any case they want a lot of money for any care including delivered meals and your home signed away but i would never think of forcing my wife into a home , I love her too much and I know she relies on me and isnt “good ” with other people as she is pretty set in her ways. There is a saying I think it comes from the Highlands of Scotland that is appropriate you must “thole ” it meaning live with it as that is your life

Profile photo of AlanHearn
Member

I’d agree with most of what Duncan says, my circumstances are similar having been my partner’s carer since her stroke almost 17 years ago (despite my own disabilities), minimum wage and paid holidays/sick leave are things that happen to other people, we used to have an excellent carers support centre in town but it has been steadily whittled away to almost nothing, politicians and governments of all colours have frequently made noises about “caring for the carer” but I’m yet to see much evidence of it and as for “scroungers and ne’er do wells” Westminster would do well to sort it’s own Houses out before trying to paint anyone else with their brush!

Profile photo of william
Member

I’ve been caring for my dad for almost 2 years and my mum as well before she passed last year. It feels like I care for him 25/8. The number of times I’ve had to turn down invites out, I’ve lost count. I have to say the NHS is my biggest concern even knowing all of dad’s medical issues. I find them disorganised/incompetent you name it. When dad has had to go into hospital he always comes out worse. And they certainly seem well versed in deflecting complaints.
I now dread the thought of him back in. The local quacks aren’t much better either.
And don’t get me started on the £62 a week carers allowance. Min wage legislation is a joke.

Profile photo of Emma Callery
Member

Thank you for your comments Duncan, Alan and William; they are a salutary reminder of everyday caring experiences. We write about the care options that are available on the Elderly Care website, but hearing about what you all do for your loved ones is most humbling.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I am a little curious over the statistic given in the Intro that 6,000 people every day are becoming “carers”. I appreciate that the definition is broad but that is still a staggering number and means that by the end of 2020 there will be more than eight million additional carers over and above the existing number [before allowing for natural circumstantial reductions in numbers of both carers and those looked after]. I am sure Carers UK know what they are talking about and have not just plucked a figure out of the air, but has any allowance been made for the number who cease to be carers each day for whatever reason? I feel we need to know the current base number and the nett annual increase in the number of carers if we are to give this subject the consideration it clearly deserves.

Profile photo of VynorHill
Member

I suppose I am lucky in being able to share duties with my sister. It means I get some time to myself during the week. We pay quite a lot for care to help with dressing, for enabling my sister to shop for basics during the times she is here and to help her take a few hours off after a busy night. The local authority pays a proportion of this cost and they make the house free from local rates. Our carers are first class though the parent organisation which employs them works on a shoe string. Plans to develop my own property have been on hold for many years and though I get two or three days away to walk and sight see, two or three times in the year, holidays are something I just don’t think about. Being of a certain age there will soon come a time when these are wishful thinking anyway. The transition was gradual in my case. We used to spend half the week at my home and half here, but this became confusing and now all care takes place here and I do the travelling and share the week with M. I find that a positive mind set helps a great deal. Keeping the brain active is key to this and I indulge in music composition and playing, writing things, crosswords and work as a school governor among other cerebral exercises. C’est la vie.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

You sound a nice person Vynor.