Who is a carer?
A carer provides unpaid help or support to someone who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems. The help may be personal, practical, emotional or supervisory, and without it the cared for person would not be able to cope. You may be a single carer, caring for an individual or multiple people, or one of a number of carers supporting an individual/group.
In England, millions of people provide unpaid care or support to a family member or friend, either at their home or somewhere else. In NEL, there are an estimated 16,000 unpaid carers.
‘Caring’ covers lots of different things; it might include helping with understanding correspondence, doing the shopping, helping with washing, dressing or eating, taking the individual to appointments or emotionally supporting them in their illness or during a bad time. If this sounds like you, you are considered to be a ‘carer.’
The video below talks about carers in North East Lincolnshire (NEL) – the volume of carers, the challenges carers face, potential rewards and some of the support available.
Who to contact to get information or support specific to your situation
The best starting point to gather information about support available for you as a carer is the NEL Carers’ Support Centre (1 Town Hall Square Grimsby, 01472 242277, https://www.carerssupportcentre.com/nel); the Single Point of Access (SPA, 01472 256256) is also a very good source of information. Both can refer you to appropriate organisations and support options, however the NEL Carers’ Support Centre provides a great deal of this support for adults itself. It also links in directly with the Young Carers Support service.
Balancing having a job and caring for someone
Three in five of us (60%) will become an unpaid carer at some time in our lives, and eight in ten of us (80%) will be of working age when we do. Carers often feel they need to give up or limit their work options in order to care.
The video below explores the challenges for working carers and highlights options available to support carers in NEL to balance work and the caring role.
If the person you care for lives in NEL, you can request a carer’s assessment via the SPA (01472 256256) or the NEL Carers’ Support Service at any time – these services will signpost you appropriately for an assessment. If the person you care for lives outside of NEL, you should contact the council covering the area where they live to ask for a carer’s assessment. You can request an assessment regardless of whether you solely care for an individual/group, or are one carer amongst a number that offer support.
You can have a carer’s assessment even if the person you care for does not get any help for their needs or if they refuse to be involved with formal services. The cared for person does not need to give you permission to have a carer’s assessment, or to have had an assessment themselves.
A carer’s assessment will look at all the different ways that caring affects your life (i.e. work/education, emotional pressures, etc.), your views and opinions about your caring role and the impact on the focal areas of your life. Your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will be at the heart of this assessment, which will explore how you can carry on doing the things that are important to you and your family. Its purpose is not to judge the quality of the care that you provide, or you as an individual for what you are/are not prepared to do as a carer.
The assessment may show that you are eligible for formal support. In this case, you will have an integral role along with professionals in creating your support plan – a record of the ways in which your eligible needs will be met. If you are not eligible, your needs will still be identified along with suggestions/advice on the ways you can meet them yourself through community accessible support (i.e. putting you in touch with local charities or community organisations).
Carers approaching the age of 18 will be able to access a transition assessment, which will look at any support available to the individual when they become an adult carer (either caring for another adult, if the cared for person is already 18+, or a child).
If your needs change and/or you need more support
If either of these things happen, contact either the NEL Carers’ Support Service (1 Town Hall Square Grimsby, 01472 242277, https://www.carerssupportcentre.com/nel) or SPA (01472 256256) – staff will be able to discuss your situation with you and agree the next steps to take.
Carers are entitled to apply for carer’s allowance. This is the main financial benefit for carers. Carer’s allowance is not a contributory benefit based on your National Insurance record. It is not a means tested benefit and so is not based on your and any partner’s income and capital. However, there is an eligibility criteria (for example a cap on how much you can earn from work and still be entitled to carer’s allowance).
Having support or a carer’s assessment will have no impact on your right to receive carer’s allowance. For information about this, or other potential financial benefits (like council tax reduction), contact NEL Carers’ Support Service (1 Town Hall Square Grimsby, 01472 242277, https://www.carerssupportcentre.com/nel).