Anyone can become a carer

And it could be you.

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for another person who cannot cope without support in their day-to-day life.

Whether due to decline in a loved one’s long-term health or suddenly due to illness, injury or accident, the caring role comes with additional responsibilities that can impact on all aspects of your physical, mental, emotional, social and financial wellbeing.

But it’s also a role that comes with rights which places your wellbeing on the same level as those of the people you care for.

Step 1: Recognise you are a carer

Caring is not just about personal care like washing or going to the toilet.

In reality, you might be helping someone with emotional support, to seek help and advice, to cook and clean, to manage their finances, to have their voice heard, to make sure they are safe in their home or helping them get out and about.

It may be hard for you to accept you are a carer and it may be hard for the person you care for to recognised that they need your help and may not want others to know. 

If people don’t know you are a carer, you won’t get the information and support you need to help you in your caring role. 

Step 2: Explore the support available to you

If you are not sure where to start, our Health Portal has a single page dedicated to carers with links to services, support organisations and resources for advice and information.

For example, it will link you to Signal4Carers which is the local carers advice and support service as well as online resources from Carers UK.  If you feel you need more support, the planning your support section will tell you about carers assessments and what the council can do to help you in your caring role. 

It’s also important to let your GP know of your changed circumstances and that you have become a carer.

Watch two local carers, Kaz and Dave, talk about the importance of getting help:

Step 3: Build a support network

Whilst a rewarding experience, caring for someone can also be challenging: carers may be juggling work, family or their own health issues and having someone else’s needs constantly at the forefront of your mind can be emotionally exhausting. 

Make sure friends and family know you are a carer and don’t be afraid to ask them for help and support.

Sharing some of the responsibility is a good way to “spread the load” but it can sometimes be difficult to co-ordinate what needs to be done.  RallyRound is a free and extremely helpful web-based tool for friends and family carers to organise who does what using their mobile phones. As tasks are added, friends and family in the support network choose what they can do and get handy reminders by text or email to make sure nothing is forgotten.

For extra reassurance, emergency respite care (short term support) is also available should you fall ill or are involved in an emergency.

It may also be helpful to connect with other carers and there are several carers groups in the area which can be found on our community map.

This is the first in our series of Let's Take Care of Our Carers articles that we're publishing for you this June. Watch out for article two focussing on information for people who are already in a caring role and how to maximise their support.