Information for carers

Every day, another six thousand people take on a caring responsibility. Carers provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner.

Every year 2 million people become carers, so the first thing to remember is you are not alone! Becoming a carer can be bewildering, confusing and frightening. No one is super human and all carers need some support and back-up.

Tell your GP

Although there isn’t a national register for carers, please make sure that you tell us that you are a carer and through our Carers Link programme we can keep you informed.

Remember you’re a carer!

Recognising yourself as a carer is the very first step to getting the support you need. Many of us do not see ourselves as carers straight away.

  • We are mums and dads, husbands, wives, partners, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbours.

We are simply doing what anyone would, caring unpaid for a loved one or friend, helping them through when they are unable to do things for themselves. The fact is that you are also a carer, and there are things that you need to know. No one likes to be labelled, but recognising yourself as a carer can be the gateway to getting a range of help and support.

Include your family and friends

Many carers turn to family and friends for support, and to help them to take a break from caring. It is important that you do not cope alone, as this can impact on your own health.

Speak to family and friends and make sure they know the extent of your caring role. Many family members or friends may not realise the level of care you are providing, they may be embarrased or don’t want you to think they are interfering.

Other people may be reluctant to ask if you need help in case you get the wrong end of the stick and think they are saying you can’t cope! Sadly, some people don’t know how to react to illness or disability and they find it awkward, so the onus might be on you to make the moves.

Look after yourself

It is easy to neglect yourself when you are busy caring for someone. However, as a carer it is important that you look after yourself. At the very least, you’re not much use to the person you care for if you make yourself ill through caring. Sadly, one in five carers report that their health suffers as a direct result of caring. For example, without proper training carers are especially prone to back problems.

Many of the most serious health problems carers suffer from, such as heart disease or mental breakdown, are a direct result of stress. Caring without a break, without proper sleep and without support is extremely stressful. It is important that you recognise this and take it seriously. Remember that a little can go a long way so when you can, try and take some time out to do something for yourself: read a magazine, visit a friend, watch a TV programme or go for a walk.