Carer support and advice



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Support and advice

 Are you a carer?

Carers are people who provide unpaid practical or emotional support to a family member, a friend or another person who needs help or support to manage daily activities.

A carer may be looking after

  • an older person
  • someone who has a mental health condition
  • someone living with a disability
  • someone with a long-term medical condition
  • someone with a terminal illness.

Carers may be adults caring for other adults. They may be parents looking after children who have a medical condition or disability. There are also young carers (under 18) caring for, or involved in the care of, relatives or friends.

The closeness of the relationship means that care can include emotional support for the person they support. Some carers do not call themselves carers. They just see themselves as a husband, wife, parent, relative, friend or neighbour. Sometimes there can be more than one carer supporting someone as part of a family or community network. At times, the carer may not be recognised as a carer by the person they are caring for.

Caring for someone can be tiring and stressful. Carers can focus so much on the needs of the person they are caring for that they neglect their own health and wellbeing. If you are a carer, it is very important that you also look after yourself.

This page gives you information about the support that is available to you.

Carers' rights

      Carers have the right to:  

      • receive a carer’s assessment – see section below  
      • be requested to be identified as a carer with their GP – see section below  

       Local support

      Our Community directory contains details for many local and national organisations providing support to carers. These include general carers' organisations (select "Carers support" from the categories) and those related to specific conditions or disabilities (select "Specific Needs" in the categories).

      • Carers in Southampton provides advice and support to unpaid carers living in Southampton.
        Phone 023 8058 2387

      Emergency help and carers' breaks

      See our information page on Breaks and emergency help.

       National support

      Carers UK provides a wealth of information and support including:

      • An advice line - 0808 808 7777. 
      • An online forum  which you can join to connect with other carers to share information support and advice.
      • An Upfront guide to caring- a simple tool for carers who are new to the maze of benefits and entitlements. Spend a couple of minutes answering questions and you will be guided to the information you need.
      • A Looking after someone guide, which can be downloaded, is for anyone caring for family or friends. The guide outlines your rights as a carer and gives an overview of the practical and financial support available.
      • Being heard - a self-advocacy guide to help you navigate a confusing system, get your message across and cope with complex thoughts and emotions when you are caring.
      • Health advice to help carers look after themselves, including eating well.

      CareTeam - homecare coordinator is an app that allows friends, family and neighbours to securely share important information about caring for an adult at home.

      National Careline – Phone 0800 0699 784 - for older people and their relatives who need advice.

      Carers Trust is a national organisation of carers' support services with a network of independently managed centres across the UK. The centres provide a range of services, including information and advice on benefits, care and access to services, advocacy, support and practical help for carers.

      Mobilise is an online community of unpaid carers offering support, advice and 'virtual cuppas'.

       Carers assessments and help from your local authority

      Your local authority can carry out a carer's assessment. These are usually carried out by the Adult Social Care department or sometimes by an organisation on their behalf. Some offer the choice of an initial online self-assessment.

      To assess if you are eligible for support, the local authority will need to consider three questions:

      • Are you providing necessary care to an adult?

        ‘Necessary care’ means activities that the individual requiring support should be able to carry out as part of normal daily life but is unable to do so.

      • Does your caring role have an effect on you?

        The effect on you must be either:
        - your physical or mental health is at risk of getting worse, or 
        - you are unable to achieve at least one of the following outcomes:
        • look after any children you have responsibilities for
        • provide care to any other person
        • maintain your home in a fit and proper state
        • eat properly and maintain proper nutrition
        • maintain and develop your relationships with family and friends
        • take part in any education, training, work or volunteering you may wish to
        • time for social activities, hobbies etc. 

          In considering whether or not you can achieve the above outcomes, the local council must take into account any difficulties you have.
      • As a result of the above, is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your well-being?

        The definition of ‘well-being’ is very broad and includes things like personal dignity, control over your day to day life, participation in education, work or social activities, relationships with other people, having suitable accommodation, and protection from abuse and neglect.

      If you are eligible for support, the local authority will look not only at the support available from your council (such as, for example, respite services for the person you care for to give you a break) but will also look at the support options you are able to access from your community.

      For more information and to request an assessment:

      Hampshire County Council carer's assessment
      Southampton City Council carer's assessment
      Portsmouth City Council carer's assessment 

       Registering as a carer with your GP

      You can register your details with your doctor’s practice so that your notes are tagged to indicate that you are a carer or that the patient is a cared-for person. It will help your GP if they are aware of your caring responsibilities and the potential impact of your caring responsibilities on your own health. The doctor’s receptionist can then also take account of your needs as a carer when trying to arrange appointment times that fit in with your caring responsibilities.

      Hampshire Carers Partnership Board have produced the following documents:

       Planning for the future

      If you are no longer able to care
      It is natural to worry about what will happen to the person you care for if or when you are no longer able to care for them. No one likes to think about a time when they may no longer be able to carry out a caring role. But planning how the person you support should be cared for in the future can give you, and them, peace of mind so do not be afraid to start a conversation.

      If the person you care for is not currently receiving any paid-for care services, but might do in the future, you should also read our Paying for care information.

      Advance health care planning
      Advanced care plans can be completed with the person you are caring for so they can express their wishes for the future. Advanced care plans are voluntary and are not legally binding but can be a helpful tool to help consider the future. 

      Useful links:

      • The Future Planning: My Wishes template from Southern Health can ensure that the things that matter to your loved one, their preferences and wishes relating to their medical care are recorded so that, if they are taken ill, health professionals can make better, more informed decisions about how to support them.
      • My Living Will consists of both an Advance Decision to refuse treatment and an Advance Statement of your preferences and wishes.
      • NHS – Planning ahead for end of life

      Making future decisions
      The person you care for may consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) which gives another person legal authority to make decisions on their behalf.

      A property and financial affairs LPA can either take effect immediately or when a person loses mental capacity to make decisions about their property and finance and this can be specified. The health and welfare LPA can only be used when they lose mental capacity to make those decisions.

      Making a will
      If you don't have a will, your money, belongings and property will be split up under the Rules of Intestacy.

      Writing a will is the only way to say who benefits after your death. A will can also help you make provision for a dependant who is unable to care for themselves.

      You can find out how to make a will on the Citizens Advice website.

      Emergency planning
      See our information about preparing for an emergency 


      See our Equipment and adaptations section for information about equipment to help you and the person you care for.  This includes care technology equipment (such as pendant alarms, falls sensors and GPS trackers) to keep someone safe and independent and provide reassurance for carers.

       Cinema concessions card

      The UK Cinema Association offers the CEA card to disabled people. This entitles any carer accompanying them to a free ticket and is accepted in 90% of cinemas in the UK. The card is available to people receiving disability or attendance allowance, registered blind or holding a disabled person’s railcard. A small processing fee is chargeable per card.

       Caring from a distance

      Long-distance caregiving may not always be easy but there are ways to make it work. Here are some suggestions which may help.

      Make a plan 
      A good way to start is to learn about their situation, the potential difficulties they face and the level of help they need. Make notes about your loved one's medical condition and any legal or financial issues. Consider whether a Lasting Power of Attorney would be appropriate. 

      Keep a list of contact numbers: GP, insurance information, account numbers and other important details. 

      If you are able to share caregiving with a sibling or other relatives, it may help to discuss how this will work best for you all. Will you take turns doing certain things for your relative? Will you take on different responsibilities? Who will step in if you are away?   

      Make use of technology and equipment
      Use technology such as Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp to keep in touch with your loved one or to make their home easier for them to manage. If they are able to use a device, help them to get online so that they can do their shopping, banking and other tasks from home if they are unable to get out. See the relevant sections on our Staying Independent page. 

      There may be equipment and adaptations which would help them to stay independent. Care technology, such as pendant alarms and falls sensors, can also help keep them safe and give you peace of mind. 

      Find out what local support or care is available
      Research what support may be available for your loved one in their area – from their local authority or from community organisations or support groups. 

      If they live in Hampshire, all the information you need should be on this website.  If they live in another county, the best place to go for initial information would be the Adult Social Care department of the local authority where they live. Many local authority areas have Connect to Support websites like this.

       See our Managing at Home section for more information. 

      Be prepared for emergencies
      Think about what you would do if you if your loved one had an emergency. If you can, make a list of friends, relatives or neighbours that live close to your relative, who you could call on at short notice.  You may need to travel at short notice so make sure you have money set aside for this.  If you work or have other responsibilities, think how this would be managed if you had to be absent for a while – can you make a contingency plan? 

      Look after yourself
      You may not be providing ‘direct’ care but caring from a distance can still sometimes be emotionally exhausting.  There can be added stresses when you are not living close by. Try to build a support network and make use of support organisations as listed in the sections above. 

       Online learning resources for carers

      • Caring for adults A free online course from the Open University. 15 hours of study – complete all or select relevant modules. It builds on what you already know to give you a better understanding of your role as a carer. It also supports your own well-being by giving you some ideas and information about looking after yourself and dealing with stress.

      • MindEd “I’m a carer and I’m stressed out” – online learning and resources to help you.

      • MindEd for Families - provides support for older people and their families when they are concerned about mental health and well-being - whether their own or family members.

      • Understanding Dementia 3 free online courses to help you understand and care for people with dementia.

      • Stroke4Carers – an online e-learning resource for informal carers of someone who has experienced a stroke.

      • First Aid – online First Aid training. Simple skills that could help you save a life.

       Further help for you and the person you care for

      • Information about work and career, including flexible working.
      • Our Health and Wellbeing section has lots of information to help you and the person you care for. This includes: general health advice to keep you fit and well, including help for specific issues (such as incontinence); NHS advice and services; mental health support;  and information about hospital stays.
      • See our information about specific Conditions, disabilities and end of life care.
      • Find help with Getting out and about with the person you care for. This includes information about Driving and parking, Leisure activities and Shopping (including accessibility guides and finding accessible toilets), Holidays, Learning and volunteering opportunities, Concessions and discounts).
      • If you are unsure what help you may be looking for, or don't have time to explore the website now, you can use our quick and easy Information Finder tool. This will find relevant links to information for you which you can email to yourself to access later.


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