Your Caring Role
Whether you are a full-time carer or part-time carer there can be contradicting thoughts:
- It’s a task that you lovingly do – but your loved one is not always appreciative, which can grind you down
- You happily dedicate the time to care – but losing contact with friends that have drifted away
- Words of encouragement from others are misguided and can cause frustration because you know that they mean well
There is light at the end of the tunnel – there is help for your hope. Quite often it is in the form of contact with people in similar positions – they are carers too and they can share the burden of “who cares about me?”.
Other carers can be met in person (“offline”) and online – on internet forums:
- The Confident Carer Service has its own support group meetings at The Disability Resource Centre and also the Luton Irish Forum – see our events pages for the dates
- Carers UK has an active online forum
- Space is an active online community for adult carers
- Matter is an active online forum for young adult carers
- Babble is an online forum for carers under 18 years of age
We have a number of sections on this page that discuss the different types of caring roles and scenarios that carers may find themselves faced with:
- New To Caring
- Young Carers
- Parent Carers
- Caring For Someone Who Doesn’t Live Near You
- Working Carers
- When Your Caring Role Ends
When you are simply doing what comes naturally – helping someone – caring for someone, it may not seem out of the ordinary. You may not recognise yourself as a carer – your primary role may be as a mum or dad, husband or wife etc. However, when you are putting in a little extra effort or a lot of additional effort to help someone who can’t do certain things for themselves then you have an additional role – that of a carer.
You are really doing what anyone would – caring unpaid for a loved one or friend – helping them through when they are unable to do things for themselves. However there are certain things you need to know because knowing these will help you and ultimately help the person that you care for too.
Recognising yourself as a Carer and acknowledging the difference that you make can be the gateway to getting a range of help and support.
These are just some of the issues you should think about:
- contact the Confident Carers Service to discuss your situation and see how they can help
- get a carer’s assessment
- apply for benefits
- organise your caring role with paid employment
- how best to support the person you care for
- how to support someone coming out of hospital
Young carers, classified as aged between 5 and 18, provide help and support to both the people they care for and often help look after younger siblings and other family members as well.
With such a wide spread of ages it is clear that there is a need for lots of different age-appropriate support.
Because their caring role may sit between helping adults and helping other youngsters, the range of tasks can be wide and include some that a youngster would not normally undertake such as providing emotional support, household management including finance and administering medication.
Spending time with friends, and finding the time to do all the things young people normally enjoy and do can be very hard to balance along with school.
There are various services and support groups within Luton and on the internet that enable young carers to:
- socialise with other young people
- get access to activities and days out
- discuss caring and get good quality advice
CHUMS provides a young carers service that supports children and young people aged 5-18 who are helping to care for someone with a disability, chronic or serious illness, mental health condition, learning difficulty etc, whether that be a parent or sibling.
Active Luton is a ‘not for profit’ sports and leisure trust operating a variety of sports and leisure facilities in Luton.
You may see yourself as just another parent looking after their child when you are looking after a child with a physical or learning disability, or life-limiting condition.
You probably do not think of yourself as a Carer.
However, being the parent of a child with special needs brings additional pressures and problems. The time you spend looking after your child may well go far beyond that of most parents. You may also find it difficult to find the most appropriate help and support for you and your child and may have to face huge uncertainties, stresses and challenges of managing your child’s condition.
There is often a huge financial impact when bringing up a child with a disability compared with other children and many parents of disabled children find that they are unable to work because of care responsibilities.
As a parent Carer, these are some of the issues you may be concerned about:
- where to find help and support
- planning for the future
- benefits for you and your child your child’s education
- childminding and respite care
Caring for someone who does not live with you or lives a considerable distance away presents another set of complications to give thought to. However, you have the same rights as any carer, even if you do not live close to your loved one, or even in the same town or county.
Looking after yourself may start to become even more important because the additional planning and actual travelling can take its toll. There is also the extra cost of getting to and from your loved one, which again needs working out.
There are practical steps that can be taken such as letting your GP know that you are a carer and also informing your loved one’s GP too. They can then provide you with the right support such as making reasonable adjustments to help you fit in appointments around your caring responsibilities. Knowing that you are a carer, your GP will also be able to look out for early signs that your caring role may be affecting your health.
Another thing to consider is to think whether there is there anyone else who can help with the caring responsibility, especially in light of potential travelling distances, for example. This may be sharing the workload or just contributing towards the financial costs.
Trying to organise your caring role when you are also working can add extra stresses and may feel like you have two jobs – one paid and one unpaid. However, with the right support, both roles can be undertaken successfully.
As a working carer, the Work and Families Act 2006 gives you the right to request flexible working with a number of options available:
- changing shifts to suit caring commitments
- flexi-time where the carer chooses when to work
- compressed hours where agreed hours are worked over fewer days or shifts
- job shares
- working from home
- leave and time off for emergencies
- parental leave
It should be noted that flexible working is an agreement for you, as an employee to work in a way that best fits your home responsibilities and also suits the needs of the business. If you meet the criteria, the company you work for is legally obliged to consider your application although they do not have to agree with your proposals.
ACAS has more information about this subject and has created several guides for both employees and employers on the right to request flexible working. It is definitely worth discussing your needs with your employer and trying to organise what will work for the business and you because you will both have much to gain.
For many Carers, the time when your life changes and you are no longer a Carer can be the most difficult. When a caring role ends, because the person you care for moves into residential care or through bereavement, there can be a range of practical issues to face as well as the feelings of loss and bereavement. Among others, these can include:
- returning to work
- dealing with practical issues such as organising the move into residential care or the matters of a death
- financial issues
- paying for funeral costs
- lack of confidence and feelings of isolation
When your caring role ends there is still support available, including via the Confident Carer Service as well as other services:
Cruse Bedfordshire offers people in Bedfordshire bereavement support from a team of trained volunteers either in your home or at one of their drop-in centres including Luton.