New to caring?
If you look after a family member or a friend that is ill or disabled, mentally or physically, without being paid you are a Carer or Caregiver. (People who are paid to care for others may be called care-workers, personal assistants or home-help but unfortunately are often also referred to as Carers)
You are not alone. There are carers groups and organisations with help, advice and support.
Here are a few suggestions
1st if you are a carer register the fact with your GP, they will generally be more understanding about being able to fix appointments and home visits etc. They can also refer you on to social services or other supporting organisations.
2nd Seek out your local carers group, they may be able to arrange or at least advise on getting a care assessment (If your GP doesn’t). They may also be able to give guidance on applying for Carers Allowance and claiming Attendance Allowance, Carers Credit (a NI credit if you’re caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week). etc.
If you have had to move in to look after someone and have left your home empty talk to the local council as you may be exempt from council tax while caring away from home, or be entitled to housing benefit, each council has their own rules.
A care assessment should identify your needs and signpost you to any help with alterations, equipment or grants available but don’t assume it will be forthcoming; you may well have to chase for every bit of help. An assessment by a physiotherapist should identify aids like walking frames, bed and chair risers bath lifts etc that would be useful some of this may be provided by the NHS (sometimes by a contractor) some you may be expected to provide and fund yourself.
If your circumstances change, for example a worsening condition, ask for a new assessment.
If appropriate apply for a Blue Badge, this is not just useful for parking but can be a gateway to getting a disabled persons travel card or other discounts
As a carer you have no special rights to deal with the cared-for health or financial affairs, where this is necessary you will need to apply for a lasting power of attorney ( LPA ) – there are two types ‘health and welfare’ and ‘property and financial affairs’ – you can apply for one or both.
Carers in general suffer from a loss of social interaction, financial pressures and stress, be aware of this and don’t be afraid to seek help. At times you may just need a respite break to recharge your batteries, or for paid carers to take over some of the day to day routine to allow you some ‘me time’.
You may find the following site useful - www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice , www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/becoming-carer , www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/carers-friends-and-family-a-guide-to-coping/what-challenges-do-carers-face/
There are also many charities and support organisations that specialise in specific types of disability or illness, take a look at the ACE ‘Disability & Carer Organisations’ pages for links
The video below from the NHS may be of use