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Family and friends' needs

Group of young friends outdoors: decorative image

Being a carer can put pressure on your relationships with your partner, children, extended family or friends. You may feel like you're constantly juggling your time and trying to keep other people happy. Time off from caring can help to redress the balance.

Your partner

Your caring responsibilities can put pressure on all your relationships but especially that of you and your partner. If you care for someone who perhaps has complex needs, you may find that you don't get to spend valuable time together. You could discuss these feelings with a social worker who should inform you of a carers' assessment, which will look at your need to nurture your relationships, and may be able to offer you respite care if appropriate.

Everyone deals with their emotions differently, and you may have always been open with your partner. However, if your roles change as a result of caring, it might lead you to hide your feelings. Share your frustrations with your partner as much as you can, or speak to a close friend or family member if you can't do this at first.

If you’ve always found communicating with your partner difficult, caring can make it harder. You may need support from an agency, such as Relate, to help you as a couple.

Your children

If you care for a child who is ill or disabled and you have other children who don't need the same level of care, you may struggle to share your time as a parent. This could be an imaginary problem, or your children may resent you or their sibling. Be open with your children about why you need to spend time caring for your disabled child, and answer any questions they may have.

Carer's tip from Netbuddy

"There is no point in forcing a 'family' event if it's all going to end in tears – especially if it is going to create anxiety for your child".

Visit Netbuddy to read more carers' tips like this

If you mention that you need to spend time with your children in your carers' assessment, your local authority can factor this in when they look at what services they can provide.

An important factor to consider is that brothers and sisters may unintentionally have to become carers. Whether they're helping out other family members or carrying out most of the caring responsibilities on their own, the amount of work that they do should be recognised and made aware to the local authorities and other family members.

Your local authority must make sure that any young carer is looked after and receiving the necessary support.

Taking on any level of responsibility can affect many aspects of a young person's life. Their social life, activities and school work are three important aspects of their life, and should be kept as normal and regular as possible.

Other family and friends

If your friends aren’t carers, they may find it difficult to imagine what your caring role demands of you. You may have been a carer for a number of years and have an established groups of friends around you, or your friendships may have suffered as a result of your caring duties. You may be so exhausted after your caring duties that you don’t have the energy to maintain your friendships.

Someone else may be able to relieve you of your caring duties so that you can spend time with friends. Or you may be able to get respite care for the person you look after by getting an assessment for them. Respite care can take the form of residential care or getting services in the home of the person you care for.

You could meet people in online forums and discussion boards, which are a popular way of talking to others in a similar situation to your own. This may be a good idea if you find group meetings intimidating.

However, this is a short-term option, and should not replace the support groups in your community. Actively attending meetings will enable you to have a life of your own outside your caring responsibilities. You'll be able to leave your caring environment for a few hours and have time to yourself, make friends, and have conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds. This will also help you to feel less isolated than you might do if the internet is your only source of communication with others.

Watch the video below to find out how one family's lives all changed when granny moved in.

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: 11/12/2013

Next review due: 11/12/2015

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