Finding advice: Carers

To mark Carers Week 2015, we have put together some sources of national and local help for Carers in North Somerset. This is largely sourced from Citizens Advice’s excellent article on Carers: help and support.

You can get help and support if you’re responsible for looking after someone who has a disability, is getting old or has become ill. This can range from practical help to make day-to-day life easier to benefits like Carer’s Allowance.

Am I a carer?

You’re probably a carer if all of the following apply:

  • you do things like helping someone to wash, dress and eat; taking them to regular appointments, doing their shopping or keeping them company
  • you aren’t paid to look after the person you’re caring for
  • you spend a lot of time caring for the person – there’s no legal definition of this, but it could mean anything from a few hours a day, to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • you may or may not live with the person you’re caring for

►If you’re a young carer (under 24) you can get local and online support from the Carers Trust.
►If you’re a parent carer of a child under 18 with complex needs, NHS Choices has information about your rights and the support you can get.

Practical help for carers

North Somerset Council might be able to arrange practical help to allow you to care more effectively and reduce your stress. This could include things like arranging for someone to step in for a while to give you a break or providing some extra support for the person you care for, to give you more time for your other responsibilities.

To see if you can get practical help, you’ll need North Somerset Council to carry out a carer’s assessment. All carers are entitled to this.

The carer’s assessment looks at how caring affects your life and work, and how you can carry on doing the things that are important to you and your family. A carer’s assessment isn’t an exam – you won’t be judged on whether the care you give is good enough.

North Somerset Council Carers Assessment document (pdf)
North Somerset Council page on Carers
Get more help to prepare for the assessment from Carers UK

Help with money

You may be able to get help to increase your income if your caring duties are affecting your finances.

Depending on your income, assets and living arrangements, you might be able to:

apply for Carer’s Allowance and other benefits
get help with paying for prescriptions and other healthcare costs from the NHS low income scheme
cut down your household costs, including gas and electricity bills or council tax discounts
have your contributions towards your state pension covered by the government if you’ve given up or cut down paid work to care for someone – Carers UK has advice to help you protect your pension
get a grant or other financial help from a local charity or trust – Turn2Us has details of charities that might be able to help you

You can get free and impartial help to sort out your finances if you’re worried about having enough money to live on and meet your existing commitments. This could include better budgeting, learning how to make your money go further and dealing with debt problems.

More information

If you need further help or advice, there are a number of organisations you can contact.

Crossroads Care – based in Weston-super-Mare
Carers UK
Carers Trust
Carers Direct – which also has a helpline for carers on 0808 802 0202 (Mon-Fri 8am-9pm; Sat and Sun 11am-4pm)