Support for carers
Getting the right information, advice and support at the right time can be vital in helping you to care.
- make a difference to your wellbeing
- make your caring role a positive and rewarding experience
You might not ask for help but we want you to know about the information, advice and support that is available to support you in your role, so that your health doesn't suffer and you can continue caring for as long as you want to.
Your health and wellbeing
Caring for someone can be very rewarding, but very demanding and exhausting.
It can affect your own health and wellbeing.
It's natural to put the cared for person's needs first, but caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a carer.
It's important that you think about your own health and wellbeing and how this can be affected in your caring role.
The emotional impact of caring can be demanding at times. The high demands on you and your time can leave you feeling out of control.
This can affect your confidence and self-esteem, and your ability to cope with everyday tasks.
Giving all your time and attention to someone else can leave you feeling socially isolated, with no time to think about your own needs and how to meet them.
Looking after yourself (self care)
Caring can be tough, so making time for self care is important.
There are lots of things you can do to make sure you stay well while providing the best care you can.
You may feel too busy to focus on your own health and wellbeing but it is important to stay well and think about if you became unwell, who will provide the necessary care to the person you're caring for.
There are some simple ways to help you stay fit and well:
- Eat well
Food can have a big impact on your mood and energy levels. Eat healthy, regular meals with as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible, and drink plenty of water.
- Rest and sleep
Tiredness can lead to low mood and depression. Try to create a regular sleeping pattern. This may need to fit around the care you provide. For example, you may be able to split your sleep around the activity and sleep of the person you care for.
Physical activity can be a big help as it releases "feel-good" hormones into your system, helping your metabolism and giving you some head space. Even a regular short walk instead of using the car or the bus can make a difference.
Talk to someone about how you're feeling
Sharing your feelings and worries can be difficult.
You may feel like talking is pointless if it can't change anything, or you may not want to "put upon" others.
Talking to a trusted friend, someone who is experiencing something similar, a counsellor or even a stranger can have a positive impact on how you are feeling.
Talking about something that's not related to your caring role can be uplifting too.
You could join a group or an evening class. There are lots of online resources such as forums and social media you could use for support.
There are lots of support groups and organisations available locally that provide counselling services, and can put you in touch with other carers to share your experiences.
Check on your wellbeing
Please think about the statements below:
- Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed?
- Do you have the opportunity to take time away from caring, to do the things you enjoy?
- Does caring leave you with enough time and energy to get to the shops and other places where you need to go, and to take part in leisure activities that matter to you?
- Are you able to spend enough time on other family responsibilities, eg being with your children, your partner, parents or siblings?
- Would you like help or information about meeting other carers for mutual support?
If you are struggling to maintain a life outside of your caring role, South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS) can tell you about carer groups or link you with other carers and support to help you take a break. Contact them on 0191 406 1531.
Please think about the statements below:
- Is there anything about your physical health that worries you?
- Have you been offered any type of health check or screening in the last year but not taken up the offer?
- Have you had a fall or any problems with your balance in the last year?
- Do you get any pain when moving or handling the person you care for, or using any equipment?
- Have you often felt down, depressed or hopeless recently?
- Have you experienced any of the following:
- Increased thirst
- Increased passing of urine or blood in your urine
- Changes in your bowel habits, or blood in your stools
- Changes in your breasts/chest (this also applies to men)
- Chest pain
- More tired than usual
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you should call your GP surgery to make an appointment, if you haven't already done so.
Prevention and early intervention is always the best option and in most cases a GP consultation will give you peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.
Your own physical health is important and help is available to make sure you have your own regular health checks.
If you're aged between 40 to 74 years old and without a pre-existing condition, you can get a free NHS health check every five years.
We can support you with stopping smoking, cutting back on alcohol, healthier eating, how to get more exercise and much more.
Find out more on health and wellbeing.
Organising your time
Try to prioritise your time.
There are some daily tasks that have to be done at specific times, such as getting children to school, preparing and cooking meals and providing medication.
It can help to know what has to be done when, and to know when you can be more flexible with your time.
Some tips on how to organise your time are:
- Create a daily planner with all of the priority tasks timetabled in.
- Identify any flexible time slots.
- Have important and emergency information such as GP, pharmacy contact, social worker, district nurse details, all in one easy to access place.
Make time for yourself
Don't forget to make some regular time for you.
Having coffee with a friend or neighbour, enjoying a hobby or going for a walk can give you some time out from your caring responsibilities, and can help you from feeling isolated.
Being able to relax and enjoy the moment is a valuable skill. There are many techniques you can learn to maximise your relaxation such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
Many community centres and local education centres run classes and there are plenty of CDs, DVDs and books available to help you learn.
For further tips on how you can help your own wellbeing go to Wellbeing Info.
If you need a break from your caring role even for a few hours, South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS) or the Council's Contact the Let's Talk team (Adult Social Care) can give advice and guidance on support that may be available to you.
These breaks are available for carers with or without the person you support.
- Tailored Leisure: accessible short break opportunities for people with a physical disability or long-term condition and their carer also offer online free seated exercise programmes.
- Carefree: Care Free provide unpaid carers with free breaks in hotels and holiday cottages throughout the UK.
- MindforYou offer supported holidays in the UK for people who are living with dementia and their carers to enjoy together.
- Some charities, such as Revitalise, offer subsidised holidays for elderly or disabled people.
- Family Fund has grants towards the cost of holidays for families on a low income who are caring for a child with a severe disability.
- Family Holiday Association has breaks at holiday sites, or grants to help with the cost of a holiday, to low-income families. You need to be referred by your social worker, GP or health visitor, or by a charity or other welfare agent.
- Honeypot offers countryside respite breaks for young carers.
- The Kiloran Trust has a house in west London for carers to stay in with the person they care for.
- Over The Wall is a charity that supports children with serious illnesses, and their siblings and parents. It runs fun activity camps in Wiltshire, Dorset, Staffordshire and Scotland for siblings and weekend camps for the whole family unit.
- After Umbrage is a charity providing free, short breaks for anyone who has been caring for someone with a life limiting condition. It also offers breaks to carers within their first 12 months of bereavement.
- Leuchie House is a dedicated respite centre in Scotland providing short breaks with 24-hour care for carers and people with many kinds of long-term health conditions.
Grants and discounts that could help you pay for a holiday can be found here:
Where you can get help
- Support and care for adults
Information on where to access the things you are interested in, or find out what choices are available to you locally.
- South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS)
Practical advice and support to carers.
- South Tyneside Lifecycle Primary Care Mental Health Service
Interventions for a range of mental health difficulties. If you are a full time carer you will be given a priority appointment.
- Mental Health Carer Support Service
Emotional and practical support to carers supporting someone with mental health needs.
- Women's Health in South Tyneside (WHiST)
A wide range of services for women over 16 years old, aimed at improving health and wellbeing
- Cumbria, Northumbria, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust: Self help guides
A wide range of mental health self-help guides in different formats available to download.
You are not paid for the care you provide, but you may be able to get financial support to help you.
Getting a benefit check will help you make sure that you and the person you are looking after are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to.
Benefits can help protect your state pension entitlement and increase your household income.
Carer's Allowance is the main benefit available to carers, and is the main source of independent financial support if you are caring full time and unpaid.
For more information on how it works, eligibility and to make a claim visit the government's website:
Attendance Allowance is a benefit for the person with a disability or illness to help with their care needs.
If you are a carer who has care needs, you can claim Attendance Allowance for yourself. This will not affect your Carer's Allowance.
To find out if you're eligible and how to claim, visit the government's website:
Carer's Credit protects your State Pension rights if you are caring for someone, but are not paying National Insurance contributions through paid work and are unable to claim Carer's Allowance.
You don't get paid any money if you claim Carer's Credit.
For more information and to check if you're eligible, visit the government's website:
Benefits for the person you are looking after
The person you are looking after may be able to get disability benefits to help pay for the extra costs of long-term illness or disability.
For more information, contact the Welfare Support Team.
Where you can go for support
- South Tyneside Welfare Support Service
Provides debt, benefit and money advice. The service is free, impartial and confidential and available to everyone living in South Tyneside.
- South Tyneside Citizen's Advice Bureau
Provide free, confidential and impartial advice on debt, finance, welfare benefits, housing, employment, immigration, consumer, taxes, family, utilities, education, health and community care matters.
- Age Concern Tyneside South (ACTS)
Can provide information on benefit, income and money management.
Help with Council Tax
If you're caring for someone you may be able to get help with your Council Tax bill.
This is called 'Council Tax Support'.
For more information and to apply see:
Help with health costs
If you are getting certain benefits you may be able to get help with costs for NHS services.
- free prescriptions.
- free dental treatments.
- free NHS eye tests and vouchers to help pay for glasses/contact lenses.
- getting money back on travel to hospital for treatment for you or your child. You can also claim for someone who needs to travel with you for medical reasons.
If you are aged 60 and over, you can get free prescriptions and NHS eye tests no matter what your income is.
If you aren't getting benefits where you can get help with NHS health costs, but you have a low income, you may be able to get help with health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
Prepayment certificates for prescriptions can also reduce costs if you regularly pay for medication.
Help with transport costs
There are lots of organisations and services that can help you with transport and travel costs.
You might find it hard when you're in employment and caring for someone, but work can be important for your wellbeing, income and social life.
If you care for someone, you don't need to leave paid employment.
You should speak to someone about what other options are available and think carefully before giving up work to care for someone.
Work gives you financial security, time away and a sense of identity, separate to your role as a carer.
Speak to your employer about your caring role
You should let your employer know about your caring role.
They might have a Carers' Policy or be open to finding new ways to support you. They might also have a flexible working scheme.
You should find out about your rights and any support that is available to you.
You have the right to take unpaid time off to deal with emergencies involving someone who depends on you, and to make necessary arrangements.
Starting work or returning to work
- Jobcentre Plus
Ask about the support available from Jobcentre Plus for learning opportunities, training courses and careers advice if you are not in work. They can also advise on funding for other care so you can take part in training.
- National Careers Service
The National Careers Service has advisers who can provide advice, information and guidance on skills and learning. You can get help to search for your first job, get back into work or change career direction.
- South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS)
If you need help with the cost of any courses, South Tyneside Adult Carers Service (STACS) can help you search for any local grants.
You can do a more general grants search with Turn2Us who have a database of organisations who give out grants.
- Timewise Jobs
A jobs board specialising in part-time jobs and roles that are open to flexibility, for people with skills and experience. They have a dedicated place for carers where you can get ideas and guidance on how to find work to fit with your caring responsibilities, and access to flexible jobs and employers.
Create an emergency plan
You should create an emergency plan for yourself and those you look after.
Having a plan in place for personal emergencies gives you peace of mind for you, the person you're caring for and other family or friends.
Having a plan means the person you're caring for will be involved in planning arrangements, so everyone knows what to do, and there is an agreement about what to do in an emergency e.g. who can be contacted.
What to include in your emergency plan
Some of the things you should include in your emergency plan are:
- details of the person you look after
- who you and the person you look after would like to be contacted in an emergency - this could be friends, family or professionals
- details of any medication the person you look after is taking and where it is stored
- information about any ongoing treatments they need
- details of any allergies
- details of their GP and pharmacy
For more information about creating an emergency plan, see Carers UK: Planning for emergencies.
Getting legal information online
If you want to plan for the future for yourself and the person you care for, get information about making a wills and lasting power of attorney online.
Getting the information online means you will not get any expensive legal fees.
- The Mental Capacity Act 2005
A law that covers people in England and Wales who can't make some or all decisions for themselves. It covers anyone over the age of 16 and sets out who can make decisions in which situations, and how they should go about it. For further information visit Mind.
- Lasting power of attorney (LPA)
A legal tool where you can appoint someone to make certain decisions on their behalf, if they can't make a decision for themselves.
- Appointee for someone claiming benefits
You can apply for the right to deal with someone's benefits if they can't manage them on their own because they're mentally incapable or severely disabled.
- Make a will
It is important you make a will as a will lets you decide what happens to your money and possessions after your death.
Where you can get help
- Office of the Public Guardian : To make a lasting power of attorney (LPA)
- Citizens Advice: Free information about making a will
- Age Concern Tyneside South (ACTS): Information and advice on arranging a lasting power of attorney or wills
- Mencap: Specialist advice about legal matters for people with learning disabilities