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Bridget McCallBridget McCall's Checklist for Carers

If you are a carer, the important thing is to make sure you have all the information and support that you need to help you maintain your own well being as well as that of the person you care for.

Based on discussions I have had with carers and health/social care professionals, these are my key tips for surviving as a carer.

  1. Ask your local council for an assessment of your needs through a Carer’s Assessment and those of the person you care for through a Health and Social Care (or Community Care) Assessment. This will identify the particular issues that you need help with and services may then be provided to help you and the person you are caring for. See Turn2us's information sheets on Help from the local council (Illness, Injury and Disability) and Help from the local council (Carers).
  2. Make sure you have the information and support you need. You can get invaluable information and support from carers organisations, such as The Carers Trust (link opens in a new window), which has 144 independently managed carers’ centres and 89 young carers’ services across the UK, and Carers UK (link opens in a new window). The Carers Direct website (link opens in a new window), produced by the National Health Service (NHS), has lots of useful information specifically for carers. Charities supporting people with any medical or health conditions the person you are caring for has will usually support carers as well. See our Useful Links: Health conditions.
  3. Check your entitlement to benefits using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator. Don’t assume that someone will automatically tell you if you are entitled to benefits. A recent Turn2us survey has revealed that nearly 50% of carers are not receiving Carer’s Allowance. 
  4. See if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund. You can use the Turn2us Grants Search database to find possible charitable funds that match your personal background, circumstances and needs.
  5. Look after your own health and have regular breaks. Accept any help that is offered you by family or friends and have regular breaks from caring (this should be considered in your Carer’s Assessment – see point 1). Eating well, exercising regularly and maintaining your own interests are all vitally important factors. Talk to your GP if you are finding your caring role overwhelming or stressful.
  6. Keep a diary or record of what you do as a carer and any difficulties the person you are caring for has. This can help you keep track of how caring affects you and gives you evidence to show health/social care professionals when you need help. Some carers also find keeping a diary gives them helpful emotional outlet for their feelings about being a carer.  
  7. Talk to other carers. Most carers I have met said talking to people in a similar situation made the most difference to their ability to cope with caring and this gave them opportunities to share information, ideas and self-management strategies as well as much needed emotional support. The carers’ organisations and health charities relevant to your situation described in point 2 can put you in touch.

 

Bridget McCall is author of 'The Complete Carers Guide', a practical, general guide for carers and Turn2us information officer.

Date of publication: 20 June 2011

Updated: 7 August 2012

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