Am I a carer?
Do you look after someone?
If you look after someone you love or care about, you may not consider yourself a carer. Caring is something we do as parents, partners, family and friends, often without question or the need for a label.
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a family member or friend who could not always manage without their support. They might look after someone with a physical disability, long term health condition, mental health issue or a problem with substance misuse.
You could be a 17-year-old girl looking after a parent with an alcohol problem, a mother looking after a child with a disability, or a husband caring for his wife who has Alzheimer’s disease.
3 in 5 of us will become a carer at some point in our lives. It can happen at any time and have a huge impact on a person’s life, not only affecting them, but the whole family. Unpaid carers save the economy £132 billion every year. That’s the cost of another NHS. Here in Wiltshire they save the county £961 million.
If you care for someone, you are not alone. Register with us and we’ll do all we can to help you access the information and support you need.
What’s it like being a carer? Watch our short video to hear first hand.
Do you look after someone?
What does caring mean?
Caring for someone can be positive and rewarding, but it can also be challenging, tiring and isolating. It may also affect your finances and ability to work or study.
Health and wellbeing
- Caring can make you physically exhausted – you might be getting up several times in the night as well as caring throughout the day. You might be juggling caring with looking after the rest of your family and holding down a job.
- Caring can leave you emotionally exhausted and lead to stress, depression and other mental health issues.
- Caring can affect your relationship with your partner or other family members.
- If you are caring in a couple you may no longer be able to enjoy shared activities or plan for a future together.
- Caring can be isolating as you may find you can rarely leave the house.
- It may be hard to sustain friendships or develop new ones, or keep up with interests and activities you may have previously enjoyed.
- Many young adult carers often miss out on the things their friends take for granted, like going out socialising, enjoying sports, or having a girlfriend/boyfriend.
We can help
- Caring can lead to financial hardship if you have to give up work to care, or are managing on benefits.
- You may not be able to do the things that many of us take for granted; such as house repairs, going on holiday, enjoying a family day out, or running a car.
- Becoming a carer can feel like a constant battle to access the benefits and other financial help you may need.
We can help
Working and learning
- Caring responsibilities mean that many young adult carers find it hard to go to college/university, or keep up with course work.
- Caring may mean that you have to put your chance of a career on hold, or never have the opportunity to have one and reach your full potential.
- 60% of working carers are worried about their ability to continue for another year and repeatedly have to take time off.
- You may have to give up work and see your income reduced to benefits.
We can help
If you think you might be a carer and need help, advice and support – we are here. Our team of support workers will guide, advise and listen. Contact us today on 0800 181 4118
A Label with Meaning
We all like labels, right? Ted Baker, Ralph Lauren, M&S?
Up to June 4th 2012 I was just me, a nearly 40yr old, single, wine drinking, cat owning, sister, aunt, a friend, sometimes the funny one or even the fat one. But that was as far as my labels went and some I liked, some I didn’t. Then on that day I became a Carer. A carer to my mum, and then to my dad. Suddenly I had a label with a meaning. I’m not sure I actually sat and thought about it, it wasn’t a choice, I wasn’t asked if I would like the role. It just happened and everything changed.
My mum had suffered a right-sided stroke which meant a left-sided weakness. She would never walk, be independent, cook for herself, get up and answer the door, do anything for herself again. Ever. She would need 24 hour care.
After her seven week stay in hospital, a period of visits, encouragement, asking of questions, adapting the house, learning of equipment, my mum could come home. Once you get over the sheer joy of agreeing that your mum can be discharged from hospital, you realise you have absolutely no idea what happens next. What care does she receive, from whom, who pays, who do I call if I’m worried, who do I call if my mums worried, if something doesn’t work, if someone doesn’t turn up, what medication gets given when and by whom? That’s when the realisation of what being a carer entails hits you so that you want to get back into your car, drive back down the M4 and pretend that it’s just another day. But you can’t. You have to become chief medication-giver, equipment fairy and acronym-solver.
So, with very little information, we embarked on a journey that has been fraught with tears, laughter, learning, anger, a lot of frustration and loss. Turns out everyone was right, there is no Life Manual, specifically one for disease or despair or disability. You learn as you go….
I know I don’t wear the uniform of a health care assistant or nurse, doctor, physio but I am that persons carer. I am the person with the label who sorts it all out. I am the daughter of the lady in the wheelchair. I tell my mum life’s good, it’s just different. My name is Kate.
Becoming a carer doesn’t always fit into your life choices or hopes for the future. If you are looking after someone who couldn’t manage without your help there is support and advice available. Contact us on 0800 181 4118
Anita cares for her daughter, Sophie who is disabled. Without family support, Anita was struggling to manage on her own. Her GP surgery put her in touch with Carer Support Wiltshire.
‘’The people at Carer Support Wiltshire are like a weight lifted off my shoulders. They have approached the council and housing association for me about the damp in the house here. I’ve had damp for 13 years, mushrooms growing off walls, and could never get anyone to do anything about it. My daughter, Sophie is disabled, she’s an adult now and I’ve brought her up on my own. We’ve just put up with it because I couldn’t get anything done.
’I’m just thinking and worrying about Sophie all the time and have no time for me. The Carer Support Wiltshire support worker is helping me join a support group and get some first aid training which will help me with Sophie.
‘’I don’t have any family support so having someone in the corner for you is amazing. It’s like an angel flew in.”
Our Time For Carers Appeal is raising money to help give carers like Anita a break. Please help us to raise the £25,000 needed.
Sophie is studying at Bristol UWE. Now 20, she has been her mum’s carer since she was 14 years old. Sophie had to leave university in her first year to look after her mum, but when she returned, the stress of combining her caring role with studying, a part time job and cooking and cleaning the house soon became too much.
When we first met Sophie, she was at crisis point and suffering from severe anxiety and depression. Young Adult Carer Support Worker, Andrea provided Sophie with a listening ear and the support she needed. A carers assessment meant Sophie was able to access help from Wiltshire Council who agreed to pay for a cleaner to come in once a week. She has also been awarded a bursary from university which means she doesn’t have to work during term, freeing up more time for studying.
Once Sophie graduates she would like to become a mental health nurse. In the meantime, Andrea and the team will be there for her.
If you are aged between 16 & 25 and look after someone who couldn’t manage without your help, don’t wait until things become too much. There is support available – from taking a break, learning new skills and helping with your CV, Andrea and the team can help. Tel: 0800 181 4118
You can help us support more young people like Sophie by fundraising or making a donation. Thank you.
When you’re a parent carer like Shelagh, you don’t always acknowledge the fact that you’re a carer when looking after your son or daughter. Shelagh’s son Carl, now 16, has Down’s Syndrome.
“When they’re babies, they’re babies. My eldest son Aaron is 21 and doesn’t have any additional needs so it took somebody to point out that I was doing more than is normal as a mother for Carl.
“It was a bit of a slow realisation. I didn’t label myself as a ‘carer’ from the very beginning. When it’s from birth, you start off as looking after a baby just like everyone else.”
“I didn’t call social services for years because I knew I would break down and cry. I think you sometimes need a bit of an intervention. In the early days, I needed that little push to get help.”
Since then, Shelagh has received some fantastic support from a great social worker and was put in touch with Carer Support Wiltshire.
One of the services she’s benefitted from is access to a Carers Clinic at her local GP surgery where she was also given a prescription break.
“Since I have my own health needs (Shelagh has arthritis), it meant that I was entitled to access a break to the value of £50 which was a very welcome surprise.”
Shelagh decided to spend the break on a couple of manicures which she found gave her a ‘real lift’. It was something she had always fancied having, but had never been able to take the time to enjoy.
Nowadays, Shelagh feels able to carry on caring thanks to the outside support she’s received.
“We’re in a much better place now we’ve accessed support and local services. When I’m at a low ebb, I know that I can pick up the phone to Carer Support Wiltshire and have a moan. It helps to know someone is there.”
Please help us to support more carers like Shelagh.
Luke was a young adult carer looking after his mum who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mental health issues. He did everything for her, from cooking to sorting out the finances. His dream was to go to university and he juggled studying for his A Levels with caring for his mum. He was also working on a pig farm to earn some extra money for them both. Having a break wasn’t something he even considered. Spending time with friends was rarely possible.
When his mum moved into a mobile home for the over 55s, Luke was made homeless and ended up living in a summerhouse in a friends back garden. Despite this, he was still caring for his mum. Carer Support Wiltshire stepped in and provided help and support; from ensuring his mum had meals, days out and help from Age UK, to getting that all important University application completed.
It was during this difficult period that Luke’s mental health suffered. Our Young Adult Carer Support Worker, Andrea provided one-to-one support and persuaded him that his dreams to go to University was stll possible. She helped guide him through the student finance process and spoke to the University who organised year round accommodation for Luke and some additional funding for living costs. Andrea then approached the local Lions Club on behalf of Luke, who gave him a laptop computer for his studies.
Luke is now studying to become a teacher. Giving him a break, when things were tough, like going to the cinema with his pals would have made a real difference.
Our Time For Carers Appeal is raising £25,000 to help give carers like Luke a break.
Helen cares for her 18 year old daughter Maja who was born with the rare condition Kleefstra Syndrome. Maja has a range of issues, include severe learning difficulties and low muscle tone.
Maya has the mental age of a 4 year old and requires constant supervision. This means she cannot be left alone in the house and needs help with basic tasks such as tying up her shoe laces, cleaning teeth, brushing hair and making breakfast. Keeping Maya occupied and active is also important.
“During the day Maja is at school, but like most people there is lots to do and I’m kept busy. In the evenings, unless Maja has an activity, I spend my time helping her. She is like any other 4-5 year old who loves doing puzzles and watching CBeebies, but if we have too many quiet days without activities she can suffer with low moods and demonstrate negative behaviours.”
“People often don’t understand the term parent carer. They just think, well if you have a child, that’s what you do, and that’s fair enough, but it’s hard looking after a child who has the added challenges of a disability or serious medical condition. Then you’re not only a parent – you also need to be the person who can administer medication; resuscitate, take on the role of speech and play therapist, a specialist in medical procedures and able to perform quite challenging physical tasks.”
“Following a carers assessment, CSW helped Maya and I get the support we needed. I’ve attended a parent carer support group and enjoyed a massage, which was great.”
“The Time For Carers Appeal will be fantastic because it will help carers like me to have a little break once in a while.”
Find out about our Time For Carers Appeal here.