Around 3.7m employees in England and Wales are working carers, and for about 72% of those employees, caring responsibilities are in addition to full-time paid work.
Being a working carer impacts on all aspects of life, however there is a big impact on work – many carers consider reducing their working hours, or had thought about giving up work altogether.
Carer’s assessments are for adult carers of adults (over 18 years) who are disabled, ill or elderly. It is an opportunity to record the impact caring has on your life and what support or services you need. The assessment will look at for example, physical, mental and emotional needs, and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring.
Any carer who appears to have needs for support can have an assessment by the local council or Carers Centre. You will be entitled to an assessment regardless of the amount or type of care you provide, your financial means or your level of need for support. You don’t necessarily have to live with the person you are looking after or be caring full-time to have an assessment. You may be juggling work and care and this is having a big impact on your life.
You can have an assessment whether or not the person you are looking after has had a needs assessment, or if the local council have decided they are not eligible for support. If you and the person you are looking after agree, a combined assessment of both your needs can be undertaken at the same time.
You should be offered an assessment by the local council adult social services department of the person you are looking after. If you have not been offered one, you should contact them by phone, in writing or online, and ask for an assessment.
You can use this link if you live in the North Yorkshire County Council area to find out more and complete a carer’s assessment online. Please use this link to view a factsheet on carer’s assessments from Carers UK.
Balancing work and home life and looking after your physical and mental health
It is understandable that being a carer combined with a job (whether that be part time or full time) is challenging. Your first port of call should ideally be your line manager if you have any worries about your workload or performance – if your manager is aware of your commitments as a carer then they may be able to offer you support and advice to manage your workload.
Employees with caring responsibilities should be able to be honest about what their needs are – no one should feel they need to hide it when they are having a rough time – it’s not always a good thing to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.
- Keep in touch – with your manager and your colleagues. The social aspects of work can have a positive impact on your wellbeing and the absence of this can leave us feeling isolated.
- Properly switch off at the end of the working day - It is important that you get some separation from work at the end of the day. Ideally, and where space allows, working in a separate room will allow you to close the door on work at the end of the day. Where this is not possible, try to clear everything away when you have finished working so you can switch off.
- Adjust your day when you need to. Aim to set a routine and designate when you are, and are not, working. This may reflect your normal working day or may need to be adjusted to reflect any home issues you face during the current situation, though significant changes should be discussed with your line manager.
- Don’t forget to eat well and keep hydrated. Looking after all aspects of your health while you work from home is important and this includes eating properly. Some of us can forget to eat when absorbed in work and with no colleagues nearby heading out for a sandwich to remind us. Equally, we can fall into the trap of grazing all day without the restraint of others nearby. Try to set times for meals and stick to them, aiming to eat healthily when you do.
- Remember to move! Standing up regularly and getting some movement into your daily home-working routine will not only boost your mental well-being but also protect your physical health by releasing muscle tensions and giving your eyes a chance to adjust from staring at a screen.
Taking a break
Breaks can take many different forms. It could be a matter of dipping out of your daily routine for half an hour with your favourite novel or your idea of a proper break may involve basking in the sunshine of the tropics (well most of us can dream!). The host of benefits that taking a break can bring are well documented.
Not only is it imperative for your own health but also, as those featured in this video from Carers UK testify, it can be good for everyone to have a change, including the person you care for. Taking a break is about giving yourself a break from the responsibilities of the job at hand rather than taking a break from the person you care for.
Becoming a carer and dealing with all the changes that come can affect your mental wellbeing. You are dealing with a disruption to your expectations of how you saw your future progressing. Sometimes you can see the disruptions coming, and sometimes they are a total surprise. They can range from minor to deeply traumatic. Some disruptions pass quickly, while others have effects that linger for a long time. However, all of them share common ground. If the disruptions you face are too large, or you encounter several of them at one time, you may run out of energy and start to break down.
Personal resilience is the ability to maintain well-being and effective functioning in the face of high levels of disruption. It involves adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, threats, and stress. It means bouncing back from difficulties with your family, relationships, health, workplace, home life, finances, etc. You can develop your resilience – you don’t have a finite amount of it and you can learn to draw on a set of capabilities that you can think of as ‘muscles’ you use in times of difficulty. Like your physical muscles, your resilience muscles can be built through practice – see below for more information.
Positivity The ability to see hope and possibility even in the darkest of times is the cornerstone of resilience. This muscle keeps you going in the face of impossible odds, and helps you bring more of your energy into figuring out how to deal with a challenge or resolve a problem.
Confidence Your willingness and ability to take action in difficult situations is enhanced when you have confidence in your own capabilities, knowledge of your strengths, and the belief that you can use challenges to learn, grow, and develop.
Priorities Most crisis situations are filled with confusion and ambiguity. You will be most effective if you can quickly decide what is most important and tune out distractions. This allows you to conserve your energy and achieve the best outcomes.
Creativity When you encounter an unexpected challenge, you need to figure out what to do to address it. If you can stretch your brain to come up with a range of options that include new, unusual, or unexpected strategies, you have a better chance of a positive outcome. As a bonus, this muscle helps you see the humour even in dark times. Connection Crisis intervention is a team endeavour. If you are able to build strong connections with others and reach out to them when you need help, you can go well beyond the limits of your own energy and resolve issues that may seem impossible for one person to handle.
Structure Systems and processes can be very helpful in deciding how to respond and in using your energy most efficiently to deal with disruption. This muscle helps you build, learn, and use structured approaches when facing challenging situations.
Experiment In most difficult situations, you need to take action without having all the information you need. Rather than wait for certainty, you can often try something, see what happens, and adjust your strategy based on what you observe. This muscle helps you take small risks that help you move forward to resolve the issues you face.
Mindfulness techniques are also a great way to build resilience – being mindful is simply about becoming aware of what is happening in the present moment. Constant connection to technology, lack of sleep and experiencing intense stress and emotions make it ever harder to be mindful or to take the time to try. The following simple technique, called STOP4 , can help you re-balance your thinking when stress levels are high.
Stop - Literally, stop what you are doing and pay attention to how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.
Take a breath -Take several deep breaths to help you to re-centre and re-focus.
Observe -Take a mental note of where you feel tension in your muscles. Are your shoulders tight? Is your jaw clenched? What are you thinking, and are those thoughts productive or counterproductive?
Proceed- Now that you have a little additional information about the sources of stress in your environment, proceed with what you were doing. The goal is to go about your merry way, but in a more intentional and balanced way.
Financial support and benefits
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. Whilst it is not means-tested, there is a cap on how much you can earn from work and still be entitled to Carer’s Allowance. Please see this factsheet for more information.
Disability Living Allowance may be claimed towards the extra costs of bringing up a child under the age of 16 with a health condition or disability. Please see this factsheet for more information.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) may be paid to those with a long-term illness or disability between the ages of 16 and state pension age. Please see this factsheet for more information. Please note that the above is by no means a full list of benefits available - working out what benefits or tax credits you may be entitled to as a carer can feel like a battle – having the right information and support can make a huge difference. Carers UK have lots of helpful information and resources all in one place to refer to – please see this link for more.
If you or your partner have a choice over which benefits to claim it is a good idea to get a benefits check, as one benefit might be better financially than another, depending on your circumstances. Contact the Carers UK Helpline for further information on any of these benefits and for a benefits check. Alternatively, try using this benefits calculator.
Home library service - The home library service is for disabled people, no matter what their age, who can’t get to the library, for elderly people who can’t get to the library, and also for carers, who because of caring responsibilities struggle to get to the library. It can also be used on a temporary basis by people who can normally get to the library, but because they have had a stay in hospital are unable to. Currently some people in the clinically extremely vulnerable category can also use the service.
Mobile library – Find out about mobile library services in your area.
Local services or businesses – Find local services or businesses in the North Yorkshire area.
Sources of information and support
Carers Resource (Harrogate, Skipton and Craven)
Carers’ Resource exists to support unpaid carers. They provide information, advice and support to carers, to the people they care for and to professionals who work with them. Carers’ Resource is an independent, award-winning Yorkshire charity that is open to everyone and offers emotional and practical help to enable them to cope.
- Harrogate, Skipton and Craven
- Scarborough & Ryedale Carers Resource
- Hambleton & Richmondshire Carers Centre
- Selby Carers Count
- Ryedale Carers Support
- Stokesley & District Community Care Association
North Yorkshire County Council
Information about carer support groups and organisations
The Help at Hand service supports people to live safe, healthy and independent lives in their own homes. Experienced staff can visit you in your own home and work with you to identify support that will enable you to remain independent. They can also help you apply for funded support from your local authority if you are eligible.
Arranging social care can be a challenge. From knowing where to start, what type of care and support you need and who pays for it, there are many questions to ask.
Carers Trust gives carers a voice and highlights their work to the public. They also campaign and work with politicians and policyholders to create real change for unpaid carers throughout the UK.
As the UK's only national membership charity for carers, Carers UK is both a supportive community and a movement for change. Their expert telephone advice and support service is there if you want to talk about caring. If you are looking for answers, the online information and support is the best place to start.
Advice on help and support if you are responsible for looking after someone who has a disability, is getting old or has become ill.
Independent Age can provide you and your family with clear, free and impartial advice on the issues that matter: care and support, money and benefits, health and mobility.
Money Advice Service
Find out about support available to carers and how to manage the money of someone you're caring for.
Spurgeons Children’s Charity
Spurgeons offers a wide range of services to support young carers, from mentoring and educational support to activities and trips away to give them much-needed time out from their caring duties.
- What defines a break and why taking one is important
- Dealing with feelings of guilt and anxiety over taking a break
- If you're looking to plan a break with professional support in place, it can be hard to know what your options are and where to start
- Funding, sources of support and carers rights
- Conversation with Candi Squirrewatt, head of operations at North Yorkshire Carers' Resources and Richard Webb talking about support for carers