What is a carer?
Many of the people we call carers would say they're just being a husband, wife, mum, dad, son, daughter, friend or a good neighbour. We also call these people unpaid carers, or informal carers.
For some people, taking on a caring role can be sudden. This could be as someone in your family may have had an accident or a child is born with a disability. For others, caring duties can grow gradually over time. For example, your parents can't manage on their own any longer, or your partner's or child's mental or physical health gradually worsens.
The amount and type of support that carers provide varies greatly. It can range from a few hours a week (such as picking up a prescription or preparing meals), to providing emotional or personal care day and night.
Carers help people with personal things such as:
- getting dressed
- turning them in their sleep
- helping them to the loo
- helping them to move about
- giving them their medication
Carers also help with things like shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking or managing money.
Unpaid carers need to be recognised for the difficulties they experience. They should be respected for all they do and given advice and support.
Young carers are children and young people under the age of 18 that look after someone in their family who:
- has an illness or a disability
- is affected by mental ill-health
- is affected by substance misuse
Young carers take on tasks that would normally be done by an adult.
Some young carers take on high levels of care. Others carry out low levels of care frequently. Either can impact heavily on a child or young person. Usually children and young people don’t want to stop 'caring'. However, they'd welcome some extra support to manage the task of being a carer. To recognise this, it’s important that we provide support to our young carers. This helps them balance their caring with their rights to be children or young people.
Find out more about the support available for young carers.
Carer's assessment and one-off payment
If you're an unpaid carer, a carer’s assessment is a way of working out if you're eligible for support from adult social care. As part of the assessment, you can also apply for a carer's one-off payment.
Find out more about having a carer's assessment and the one-off payment.
Carer's Allowance is a benefit paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to carers 16 years or over who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with substantial caring needs.
You don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for, but they must be in receipt of either:
- Attendance Allowance
- the middle/higher of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
- the 'daily living' element of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Carer's Allowance can sometimes affect certain benefits that the person you care for receives. It's good to get proper advice before making a claim. You can speak to the DWP on 0800 587 0912.
Carer support groups
There's lots of local and national support to help you if you're a carer. Find out about carer support groups and organisations.
Our Carers' Strategy
To make sure unpaid carers are supported we worked with them and other key partners to produce our Carers' Strategy.
The strategy recognises the need to support carers and to enable carers to maintain a balance between their caring duties and a life outside their caring role. This helps them to preserve their own personal health and wellbeing.