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Kinds of caring

More than 50 hours a week

Many people look after someone for more than 50 hours a week – which is more than you would work in a full-time job. Often, the person they care for is a parent, spouse or child, who may have a long-term condition or disability. Many people don’t see themselves as carers, so they miss out on the support that's available to them.

If you spend a lot of your time caring for someone, call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053 to make sure you know how to get the necessary support. Our lines are open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, and 11am-4pm on weekends, closed bank holidays.

Carer’s assessment

If you're spending most of your time caring for someone else, you're more likely to be entitled to support from your local authority. The best way to get support from your local authority is to get an assessment of your needs as a carer, as well as a community care assessment for the person you look after.

Support services

Your assessment may make it clear that you need practical adaptations and equipment to help you and the person you care for around the home. The person you care for may also be deemed as needing care at home as a result of their assessment. If you want to find support services near you, check the local services in our directory.

Look after yourself

Caring for more than 50 hours a week may mean that you provide round-the-clock assistance and have to get up in the night to help the person you look after. This level of care can put a strain on your own health, but it's important that you look after yourself too. Your GP surgery or pharmacy can be a good source of information and advice about your health, as can NHS Choices.

Respite care

Looking after someone can be exhausting as well as rewarding. It's important for your wellbeing that you get regular breaks from caring, especially if it takes up a lot of your time. It might seem hard or expensive to organise time off, but we can offer advice on how to fund a break from caring, as well as where to go if you've arranged a break.

Financial support

Caring for someone for more than 50 hours a week makes it more difficult to fit work around your caring responsibilities, and you could end up struggling financially as a result. Financial support is available for carers. Make sure that both you and the person you're caring for are getting the benefits and tax credits you're entitled to. The GOV.UK: benefits advisor tool will help give you an idea of what you may be entitled to claim. Alternatively, you could phone the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200. 

Support groups

Many carers find it difficult to get the right balance between caring and having a life outside of their caring role. If you’re caring for more than 50 hours a week, you'll have even less time to yourself and may feel very isolated. You could ask friends and family to help you. They could do the food shopping for you once a week or sit with the person you care for while you have some time to yourself. Some people find it helps to talk to others in the same situation.

You can find details of your nearest support groups by typing your postcode into the “Services near you” box (above right). If you can't attend a carers group regularly, you may prefer to join an online support group.

Many of the national charities aimed at carers have online communities, including Carers UK's forums and the Carers Trust.

Watch the video below about how sharing a home with the person you look after can benefit the whole family.

Caring for a parent at home

In this video, Claire and her family talk about the decision to care for her mother at home.

Media last reviewed: 05/08/2013

Next review due: 05/08/2015

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Page last reviewed: 09/07/2014

Next review due: 09/07/2016

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

Carers services near you

Carers' assessments

Find out if you qualify for support from social services through a carer's assessment