A carer is anyone who provides unpaid care and support for a family member or friend who couldn’t manage without the help. For example, you could be caring for your husband, wife, partner, parent or child with additional needs.
Being a carer can be challenging and lonely, but there is support available to help you:
- get the benefits and help you are entitled to
- find other carers in your area and take part in social activities
- get advice and information
- access services to help you stay healthy and well.
Benefits and work
As a carer you may be entitled to some benefits and allowances, such as Council Tax relief and Carer’s Allowance. The person you are caring for may also be eligible for benefits and help for things like equipment and home adaptations.
Online benefits calculator
Use the benefits calculator to see what you may be entitled to and how to claim. The calculator is anonymous and checking it doesn’t mean that you have to claim. Visit www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators
A carer’s assessment will look at any services you may need to support you as a carer, and will also look at whether you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. Phone 08456 434 435 or visit devon.cc/carersassessment to find out more about having a carers assessment.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Citizens Advice Devon can give you independent advice about benefits, housing, your rights and managing your finances. To find out more phone the Devon adviceline on 03444 111 444 or visit www.cabdevon.org.uk to find out more information and find your local advice centre.
Support at work
If you are working while caring you have the right to request flexible working after being with your employer for 26 weeks. Carers UK has lots of detailed information about the rights of carers at work. Visit www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/work-and-career
We are holding carers into employment events across Devon to help carers back into work. Find out when the next event is and see some of the useful resources at http://devon.cc/carersintoemployment
If you are looking for work Carers UK has information about recognising and presenting your skills at www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/work-and-career/getting-back-into-employment
Learn Devon can help you with studying for specific qualifications and has a range of get that job courses, designed to help with communication, completing job applications, developing confidence or introducing you to working in specific areas. If you are on a low income or are receiving certain benefits then your course fee may be reduced. Find local courses at www.learndevon.co.uk.
Having a break
Caring is physically and mentally challenging and it’s important for your health to try and take regular breaks. Having a break usually involves the person you care for being looked after by someone else while you have some free time. This could be them going somewhere so you can have a break at home, or them being looked after at home so that you can go out.
You can organise this yourself by finding an agency or carer who can look after the person you care for. Find a list of agencies in Devon at devon.cc/carersbreaks You could also speak to Devon Carers about finding local support to help you have a break. Phone 08456 434 435 or visit www.devoncarers.org.uk
You can also see if you are eligible for a break from Devon Social Care services. To do this you will need to have a carers’ assessment which looks at your needs, phone 08456 434 435 to book your assessment. If the assessment shows that you would benefit from a break and that the person you care for would need to be looked after while you do this, they will need to have a care needs and financial assessment and agree to pay any charges.
Caring can take a toll on your physical and mental health. It’s important to maintain your health and take advantage of the services available to support you.
The NHS website contains lots of information about living well and staying healthy. There is detailed information on eating well and maintaining a healthy diet, dealing with tiredness and sleeping well, and keeping fit and exercising. There is also information about maintaining good mental health and getting help with depression, anxiety and loneliness. Visit www.nhs.uk and click on Live Well.
Carers UK has information about looking after your health as a carer specifically referring to looking after your back, getting enough sleep and managing stress and depression. Visit www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/looking-after-your-health
A carer’s assessment is a chance to discuss your health and wellbeing and get information and advice to help you deal with the challenges of caring and to manage your own health. Through the assessment you can also find out how to access treatment and support. To ask for an assessment phone Devon Carers on 08456 434 435.
Most doctor’s surgeries can put you in touch with specific carers services and can refer you to physical and mental health support. Your surgery may also have a register of local carers and provide services like drop-in clinics to support your health. Book an appointment with your GP and tell them that you care for a friend or relative.
If you’re caring for someone with memory loss or dementia, memory cafes can be a great way to get help and support and meet other people who are caring for someone with memory loss. There are cafes across Devon, visit devon.cc/memorycafes to find your local memory cafe.
Caring for a child
Quids for Kids
Quids for Kids is a service provided by Devon County Council and Citizens Advice Bureau Devon. Someone will work with you to check that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to, help you to apply for any you’re missing and challenge decisions if you believe you have not been treated fairly. Phone 03444 111 444 or visit http://devon.cc/q4kreferralform to refer yourself.
Sites like Mumsnet and Gransnet are large resources where you can talk to thousands of other parents or grandparents across the country. You can use the sites to get specific support for your situation or just chat to other parents.
For Mumsnet visit www.mumsnet.com
For Gransnet visit www.gransnet.com
Devon Information Advice and Support
This service provides confidential and impartial information, support and training for parents and carers who have children age 0-25 years with additional educational needs. They can help you if you are concerned that your child’s additional needs may be affecting their education. Phone them on 01392 38 30 80, email email@example.com or visit www.devonias.org.uk for more information.
Devon Parent Carers’ Voice
An organisation run by and for parents of children with additional needs. The group provides information and support and helps Devon parents to have their say about services for children with additional needs and their families. Phone 07975 506069, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.devonparentcarersvoice.org
The SEND website is the place for all information about support for children with additional needs in Devon. You can find information about social care support and the help available through each stage of your child’s development. Visit https://new.devon.gov.uk/send.