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Caring and studying

Although it may feel like your whole world revolves around caring, many carers find that having an activity that's separate to their caring role, such as studying, is important. This can give you a sense of identity and boost your confidence. Whether it is a short evening course or a degree, it can be a real help to carers.

If you would like to take up some form of education, but are not sure where to start, you could begin by thinking about:

  • whether you want to develop an existing interest or skill or learn a new one
  • where you want to do your course, such as an adult education centre or college, or whether you want to do distance learning or e-learning
  • how much time you want to spend studying
  • the level of the course you want to do
  • what can you gain through learning

The purpose of learning can be to have time to yourself, or it can be a step towards something else, such as volunteering or paid work.

Watch the video below to see how one carer combines caring and learning.

Practical issues

You might find studying is a great way to have some time for yourself, away from your caring responsibilities. When you have a carer’s assessment, it must consider whether you want to undertake any learning opportunities. Make sure to say that you want to study when you have a carer’s assessment or a review. If you do this, the local authority will then have to consider how to help you.

Funding study

As a carer on a low income, the cost of studying or doing a training course may put you off, but there are many ways of getting financial help with studying. Sometimes you can even study for free.

Practical support

Before taking up a training course as a carer, you may also need to arrange alternative care for the person you are looking after in order for you to study. You may wish to make arrangements through family or friends. However, you should also contact the social services department at the local authority of the person you are looking after to see what help they can offer.

You may need to ask for a carer’s assessment of your needs (or a review) and an assessment of the needs of the person you are looking after, so that the local authority can work out what help would work best for you and the person you are looking after.

It is also worth contacting carer’s organisations and voluntary groups in your area to see what help, advice and support they can provide so that you can study.

Effect on benefits

Studying may affect your entitlement to benefits. See the section on carers' benefits to find out what affect studying may have on your benefits.

Support from the place of learning

It may be a good idea to discuss your caring responsibilities with the college, institute, university or any other place where you study. They may be able to help you combine learning and caring more effectively. This might be through simple measures such as letting you leave your mobile phone on during classes so that you can take calls from the person you are looking after if they need you. Or it might be that they can arrange for you to study from home on occasions.

If you talk with them they may be able to suggest a range of practical ways of solving any challenges that arise.

Studying while being a carer

Barbara is a full-time carer for her autistic children. Watch how she keeps an outside interest by studying with the Open University.

Media last reviewed: 05/08/2013

Next review due: 05/08/2015

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

cazzie58 said on 27 August 2010

what they don't tell you is that you lose your carers allowance if you study but not if you work, this needs SORTING OUT!!!

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Page last reviewed: 24/02/2014

Next review due: 24/02/2016

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Media last reviewed: 17/07/2013

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