Caring for older relatives
Looking after an older disabled relative can have practical, financial and emotional challenges. But help and support is available.
The Carers Trust answers some of your common questions on where to find practical and emotional support.
I've just started to care for an older relative. What help can I get?
Even though you might see yourself as a wife, husband, partner, sibling, daughter or son, it's important to recognise that you are still caring for someone.
Under the Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, local authorities have a legal duty to assess any carer who requests an assessment or appears to need support.
A carer's assessment is not the same as a needs assessment, which evaluates your relative's needs.
Contact your local council to apply for a carer's assessment.
What does a carer's assessment involve?
A carer's assessment involves a discussion between you and a trained person from the council.
The assessment is not about how good you are at caring. It assesses how much support you need and the effect of your caring role on your health, wellbeing, work and family life.
Be realistic about what your relative's needs are. Don't feel shy or underestimate the amount of support your relative needs, otherwise you may end up not receiving adequate support.
As a result of the carer's assessment, the council may write a support plan, which sets out how your needs will be met. This may include help with housework or buying a laptop to keep in touch with family and friends.
You may also receive help with home adaptations and emotional support. You should also be given information and advice, including what local care and support is available.
Read more about how to prepare for a carer's assessment.
How are my relative's needs assessed?
You or your relative can ask for a care and support needs assessment. This is carried out by your local authority adult social services department.
Sometimes this assessment is carried out at the same time as your carer's assessment.
You may be entitled to help with caring for your relative, making home adaptations, getting specialist equipment and taking short breaks from your caring role.
Local authorities have their own policies on charging for the support they provide based on the assessment.
My relative wants to continue living in her own home but needs extra help to do this. What support is available?
Your relative may be eligible for home help. This usually means a homecare worker will come to their home in the morning and in the evening.
The type of help available varies across local authorities. It also depends on your relative's mobility and how easily they perform personal care tasks, such as getting up, getting dressed and cooking a meal.
You can learn more in local authority funding for care and support.
My older relative is moving into our home. What help is available to us?
When your relative lives with you, this doesn't affect your eligibility for support. You're still entitled to a carer's assessment and the support that may result from it.
Find out more about caring for a relative at home.
We're struggling to afford the costs of being carers. Are we entitled to financial help?
There are different kinds of financial support and benefits that carers and the person they care for can access.
How can I arrange a short break from caring?
Caring is physically and emotionally demanding, so taking short breaks is important.
Read Carers' breaks and respite care to learn more about how to arrange short breaks from caring and your entitlement to them.
Certain charities also provide breaks for carers. Find out about the types of breaks they offer.
Where can I get more information and support for myself?
There's lots of information and advice for carers in Your guide to care and support.
Carers Trust has a national network of 144 carers' organisations that can help with information, advice and support. They can also offer education and training.
You can find your local carers' organisations on the Carers Trust website.
The carers' organisations may also run groups for carers who want to meet other people in the same situation. They may organise activities and social events for carers, who say they often feel isolated.
The support and friendship of other carers can be important in helping you cope in your caring role.
Carers Direct helpline
Get free, confidential information and advice on caring by calling the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053.
Lines are open 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), and 11am to 4pm on weekends.
Article provided by NHS Choices