In 2017, Carers UK’s ‘State of Caring’ report first highlighted that 8 out of 10 carers have felt lonely or isolated as a result of their caring role. Three years on, and the isolation and struggles many carers experience is still as real as ever.
In 2019, a report from the Carers Week organisation found that unpaid carers (an estimated 8.8 million people) are seven times lonelier than the rest of the general public. With an additional 4.5million people forced to become unpaid carers for a loved one during the Covid-19 pandemic, levels of loneliness, isolation, and stress for carers are likely to be reaching an all-time high.
How Can We Care For Carers?
For many carers, the burden of care, family responsibilities, general life admin, maintaining a carer and social life, and all the other facets that take time and energy can build-up to the point where the smaller things start to slide.
As a friend or family member, one of the best ways you can care for carers is to see what you can do to help take some of that load off. Small but valuable ways you could do this include:
- Offering to go to the shops for them
- Regular phone calls/check-ins on their wellbeing
- Organising respite when needed
- Staying up-to-date on ways you can support carers
- Offer to do other admin tasks to help free up their time
Carers UK ‘Take A Break’ Information
The Carers UK ‘Take A Break’ factsheet covers a number of different ways carers can take a break. This includes:
- Arranging care cover
- Support from friends and family
- Finding help from organisations
Respite care is a term used to refer to services that are designed specifically to give you a break from caring.
If you do not have a friend or someone you know who can help you with this, respite care can sometimes be organised via your care assessment with your council. Alternatively, you can organise respite with a care agency for the time you need off.
Juggling Work & Caring
If you juggle both work and caring responsibilities, you do have the right to request flexible working to help you manage these demands.
Flexible working could look like a number of things:
- Compressed working hours
- A job share
- Location flexible
Age UK has a useful resource that provides more information on flexible working as a carer and your rights.
Getting financial support
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit available to those who perform care work, and could give you up to £66.15 per week (April 2019/20) if you fit the eligibility requirements.
Take a look at this total guide to Carer’s Allowance from Surewise to see who is eligible for carer’s allowance, how to apply, and what other benefits you could be entitled to. Surewise also provide carers insurance protection if you employ a carer in your home, which means you are likely to need employers’ liability cover by law.
Additionally, if you have a carer’s assessment from your local council, you could be assessed as eligible for a personal budget. Alternatively, the person you care for may be assessed as entitled to Personal Independence Payment or another benefit that helps to pay towards their care needs.
You can find out more about these things on the Gov.uk website.