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Carers: Finding help and support

Caring for a loved one can be extremely demanding. Care needs can build up without you even realising and, suddenly, you’re taking responsibility for somebody else’s life, as well as your own.

Caring: Support for carers

It’s important for carers to seek support, where they can, and try to build periods of rest into their week.

Pace yourself and engage as many of your friends and relatives as you can.

If you feel isolated in your caring role, speak to your GP or look for ways to access a carers’ charity or a carers’ support group. There is also online support available for carers.

Caring help from other sources

  • Family and friends: Start with those close to you and the person you care for. Look at all your caring duties and list any tasks that others could help you with, for example, cooking and freezing meals, cleaning the house or taking the person you care for to doctor’s appointments. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Care homes: There are two main types of care homes, permanent residential care homes and day centres tailored for people with disabilities or those seeking respite care. Local authorities and some voluntary organisations manage public care homes which can be a cheaper alternative to privately owned facilities - bare in mind both options can have long waiting lists. For carers, residential care homes can provide a safe environment for the person you care for when home care is no longer possible. Residential care homes can also temporarily care for individuals to allow carers to take a break from their duties.
  • In-home help: There are different types of care support you can receive at home. There are paid-for workers (either privately or through your local authority) who can help with daily living care, from dressing, bathing, laundry and preparing meals to nursing and medical care. If the person you care for requires companionship, there are many voluntary organisations who manage befriending schemes.
  • Meals: Local authorities and some charitable organisations offer catering services that prepare and deliver meals to elderly or incapacitated people. Home meal services, or "meals on wheels" is provided following an assessment visit to the home of the person you care for by the local authority. The council will then provide a simple "service agreement" which details any costs incurred and when meals will be received. Each council has its own way of managing home meal services.
  • Charities. Carers’ charities provide different forms of support for carers. For example, the carers’ charity Crossroads provides a replacement care service so a carer can have time to themselves while a trained care support worker takes over at home.
  • Your GP. Your GP can not only help carers with the medical and practical care concerns they have, they can also help carers access a range of services to look after their emotional health.
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