Am I a carer?
A carer is any unpaid child, young person or adult who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness or disability. You may or may not live with the person you’re caring for.
Citizens Advice says you are likely to be a carer if all of the following apply:
- You do things like helping someone to wash, dress and eat; taking them to regular appointments, doing their shopping or keeping them company.
- You aren’t paid to look after the person you’re caring for.
- You spend a lot of time caring for the person - there’s no legal definition of this, but it could mean anything from a few hours a day, to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You may have found yourself in a caring role suddenly, or perhaps it has gradually increased over the years. Care and support is available. This can range from practical help to make day-to-day life easier to benefits such as Carer's Allowance.
Resources and support
Carers UK have lots of resources for anyone new to caring, sharing the information you need to know, with editions for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These include:
- Upfront, which asks questions to generate practical and financial information and support tailored to your situation
- Looking after someone, an in-depth guide to your rights as a carer and where you can go for help
- factsheets that break down complex issues simply and accurately so you get the full picture of support available
- Being heard, a self-advocacy guide to help you communicate your needs with professionals, know your rights and look after your wellbeing.
NHS information on support and benefits for carers includes details of how to access a carer's assessments, support from local councils, respite care and help for young carers.
In Northern Ireland, carer’s assessments are managed by local Health and Social Care Trusts.
In Scotland, all carers are entitled to either an Adult Carer Support Plan or a Young Carer Statement, which will help you get practical support. Each local council publishes its own eligibility criteria for these. Care Info Scotland has a helpline (call 0800 011 3200 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) and an online chat service if you'd like to speak to someone to get information and advice.
A young carer is a child or young person up to 18 years old who is caring for a family member.
The Carers Trust helps young carers to cope with their caring role through specialised services delivered by Carers Trust Network Partners across the UK. What's on offer varies from area to area but can include:
- the chance to spend time with other young carers
- helping you and your family access services near your home
- providing advice and emotional support through counselling and drop-in sessions
- working with your school so that teachers understand your situation
- offering you the chance to take a break from caring.