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Parent caring

Sandwich caring

Many people care for both a parent and a child. The number of so-called "sandwich carers" is growing, as people are generally living longer.

What is a sandwich carer?

All families are different. A sandwich carer might have a disabled child and a stepfather who is frail and elderly. Or they may care for a mother with dementia as well as their adult daughter, who misuses drugs. Whatever your situation, it's important to get as much support as you can.

Sources of support

One of the best ways to get practical help with caring is through your local authority. If you care for an adult, you may be able to get more support for them by asking for a community care assessment.

There's a different assessment process for children if you're responsible for a disabled child.

An assessment for someone you care for should consider your needs as their carer. Most carers can also have their own carers' assessment. This identifies support that could help you balance caring with other aspects of your life, including work, education, family and social relationships.

Local voluntary organisations may be able to provide practical help, such as shopping for an elderly relative, accessible transport or activities for disabled children. They can also provide someone to talk to for emotional support. Many people find it helpful to share their feelings with other people in a similar situation. To find voluntary organisations for carers in your area, search the directory of local services or call the Carers Direct helpline free on 0300 123 1053.

Your friends and family members can be a valuable support network. Think about whether other people you know could take some of the strain off you by helping you regularly. Making a list of tasks that you need to do in a typical day or week could help you identify how others could help.

Family Lives is a national charity that provides help and support in all aspects of family life. They work with First Stop, which gives independent advice on care and housing for older people and is expanding its services to help people with sandwich caring responsibilities. You can call the Family Lives helpline on 0808 800 2222 any time of day to talk about any problems you're experiencing with family life.

Your working life

Caring for more than one person in your family is likely to put many demands on your time, and your ability to work may be affected. Carers have specific rights in the workplace. Find out more about your rights at work, flexible working and combining caring and study.

Your caring responsibilities might mean that you're unable to work or you don't earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions. This might leave gaps in your pension record, which could affect your state pension. Find out how to protect your state pension entitlement.

Money matters

Make sure you get all the financial help you're entitled to. You can do this by getting a benefits check from a Citizens Advice Bureau, a local welfare rights organisation, or a carers' centre. If you care for a disabled child, you may also be able to get help through the Family Fund.

Further information

Find out about caring for more than one person. If you look after a child, see the section on parent carers.


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

bubblies said on 17 May 2013

I am a sandwich carer, i care for my husband who at 46 has behavioral variant/ frontal temporal dementia/aka picks disease and COPD. my son aged 14 has type 1 diabetes and a learning disability. i am advocate for my 52 year cousin who is autistic, learning disability, carer/advocate for my daughter aged 30, biploar type 2 and double incontinent. It would be impossible for me to work, just as its impossible for me to arrange any time away from home to do most things, i might get about 3 hours a week to myself. Life is stressful, we manage we have a comfortable home but life is not what it should be....

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Page last reviewed: 19/08/2013

Next review due: 19/08/2015

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.

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