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Navigating The Cost of Living Crisis as a Carer

Navigating The Cost of Living Crisis as a Carer

After a challenging few years of caring through Covid-19, the cost of living crisis is a new burden to unpaid carers.

With unpaid carers facing a real-terms cut of 4.5% in their weekly allowance and energy bills predicted to rise by over 50%, Carers UK survey has revealed that 45% of unpaid carers have said they are unable to manage their monthly expenses and the potential for further increases in energy bills carers say, will impact the mental health of themselves and the individual(s) they care for.

It is so important therefore to learn how to navigate the current cost of living crisis to reduce the burden. Below are some useful tips on how to keep in control of your finances as a carer during this difficult financial period:

Check to see if you are entitled to any benefits:

If you are not aware already, it is important to know about the potential benefits you can receive as a carer which can financially help you.

If you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week you may be eligible for Carers Allowance. This provides weekly financial support. For each week you get Carer’s Allowance you’ll be entitled to get National Insurance credits. There are also other potential benefits such as support from your local council or a Council Tax Reduction.

Banking digitally:

Online and mobile banking allows you access to your account 24/7. This can help you manage your finances easier and means you can keep track of your spending whilst you are on the go.

Supermarket saving:

By downloading your supermarkets free loyalty app, you can scan and collect points from your spending. These can be redeemed for pounds and pence discount off the cost of certain products or your overall grocery shop, helping you save as you spend.

There are also price comparison apps and websites for supermarkets such as My Supermarket Compare, which allows you to compare prices from all the major superstores. This process will help you get the best deals for your shopping.

Make positive lifestyle changes:

Simple and small changes can help you save money on your bills. For instance, hanging out your washing, when possible, rather than using a tumble drier, turning the heating down by a degree or two, or switching off lights and radiators when not in use all can help reduce your total bill amounts.

Debt management:

If you find yourself getting into debt, you can receive free, impartial advice on how to handle this. Here are a few organisations which can guide you through debt management:

– National Debt Line

– Turn2Us (also offers benefits and eligibility calculators)

– StepChange

– Citizens Advice

– Christians Against Poverty

 By Tabitha Desmond

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Carer’s guilt

Carer’s guilt

Guilt is a familiar feeling for many caregivers. For carers who work, they can feel guilt from having to spend time away from those who they care for. Carers may also feel guilt that they may not be doing enough or should be doing better in their caring role. Although these feelings may arise, it doesn’t mean the feelings are true. It is important to go easy on yourself and remember your worth and all that you selflessly do.

Many carers feel guilt, but it’s essential to remember that this is common and that you don’t have to feel this way. Here are some important steps in how to deal with the feeling of guilt and to feel good in your caring role:

Supporting yourself:

It is important to care for yourself, like you do with the individual you care for. Show yourself some kindness by doing something that will uplift you, this can be as simple as watching a nice film, listening to some music, or taking yourself on a walk.

In supporting yourself, it is important to remember to not push your feelings away, this will help you manage your feelings and not get overwhelmed with guilt.

Help from others:

You can work through your feelings by talking to a close friend or family member. They may also offer to assist you in your caring position, alleviating some of the stress you carry, or simply listen and allow you to express your worries in a safe space.

There are several online discussion forums such as The Carers UK forum, where you can talk to carers who are experiencing similar feelings, helping you remember that you are not alone in your journey.

By talking to your local GP, they can offer you support through counselling service referrals, or information on local support groups. These support services can provide you with guidance to reduce feelings of guilt or feeling overburdened.

Reframing your mindset:

Reminding yourself of all that you do for the loved one you care for can help reframe your mindset and reduce potential feelings of guilt when you do need a break.

It is also important to recognise that the individual you care for may also feel guilty. They may recognise the pressures being cared for puts on you. Remembering this helps realise you are not alone in feelings of guilt and helps reframe your mindset.

By Tabitha Desmond

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

A Quick Overview of Carers Rights at Work

A Quick Overview of Carers Rights at Work

When you become a carer, your whole life changes. Not only do you have to worry about the person you’re caring for, but you also have to think about how your own life is affected. One thing that can be particularly difficult is trying to juggle work with your new caring responsibilities. Thankfully, there are a number of carers’ rights at work that can help make things a little easier. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of these rights and explain how they can help you manage your work and caring responsibilities.

Now that things are slowing returning to normal, post pandemic, it is more important than ever to be aware of the rights you have, to help reduce the burden of balancing a job whilst caring for a loved one.

Do carers have any rights?

It’s critical to understand your rights as a caregiver to help access the support you deserve. The Care Act 2014 introduced a number of carer’s rights. The act was set out to enable those in need of support to have greater influence about how care is delivered and set a cap on how much anyone has to contribute toward their care costs.

What are my employment rights as a carer?

The Care Act 2014 included several rights for carers in the workplace. These involved:

Additionally, under the Equality Act 2010  you will be protected against discrimination or harassment that may occur in the workplace because of your caring obligations.

Are carers allowed time off work ?

If you care for someone for at least 20 hours per week, you have the right to take time off work without fear of negative repercussions. This can be used when you need to care for that person or attend certain meetings and appointments.

As a carer, there are some occasions where you might not be able to make it into work – whether it’s because your carer duties mean you can’t spare any time away from your patient or because they are ill themselves. If this happens, do not fear – your employer is obliged to allow you paid carer’s leave.

By Tabitha Desmond

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

How has the pandemic changed the way we work?

How has the pandemic changed the way we work?

Various companies in the UK are not only trialling a 4-day week, but some offering further benefits in order to look after their employees, some including a free company holiday!

Flexible working was enforced across the country throughout the pandemic, however coming out of the pandemic, we are seeing a new normality of flexible working, with the options of both working from home and attending the office. Although there are plenty of benefits that follow through with working from home, such as more time to yourself, less time commuting, saving on costs, it is also important to highlight the challenges that we may/have encounter too.

One major element of working from home is the lack of distinction between personal and work lives. Everything almost becomes one, and it might seem like we don’t get a break, especially when work and personal responsibilities occur all in one environment. In addition to this, it also gave co-workers an insight into our lives whilst on Zoom calls and cameras have to be switched on, for example, which some may find uncomfortable or too invasive. On the other hand, allowing team mates to see an element of our lives they wouldn’t usually see, can enhance personal relationships, creating a better working environment. Oprah gives some advice here on how to establish a clear division between personal and work lives, however some may prefer these two blended together, which is also fine!

There has also been a huge change in the way that organisations are managing the mental health of their employees, offering free therapy, exercise classes or perhaps time out when necessary. Prior to the pandemic, it was less frequent that employees found themselves in a working environment that was as flexible as it is now, and this flexibility also gives us the opportunity to work on ourselves mentally. The huge shift in progress from focusing solely on physical health, to now giving the equal amount of effort towards our mental health, especially with the support of employers, it will lead to a better mindset of employees, whilst creating an open culture where these issues can be spoken about amongst each other.

In terms of productivity, the pandemic lead to the majority of organisations working from home, which lead to an increase in the use of technology to deliver training/onboarding new employees/work collaboratively. More time sitting on video calls as opposed to walking to meetings, a significant increase in screen time per day and less coffee catch ups can lead to feelings of both laziness and loneliness. It is important to therefore remain active, and ensure you go for walks, which will improve both physical and mental health, whilst perhaps taking time away from the screens at night, e.g., less television and mobile phone time! It is also a good idea to stretch, as sitting down all day does not do us any good, for now or the future and so Bupa have noted down a few stretches they advise here.

By Priya Tank

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Benefiting from digital skills as a carer

Benefiting from digital skills as a carer

Many carers are facing digital exclusion, they feel nervous about being online, or may lack the skills necessary to navigate the online world. Covid-19 may have accelerated this, where the world has become more digitalised than ever before. Despite this, 97% of carers still don’t receive support with computers and the internet. Carers who may struggle digitally, risk missing out the many benefits digital technology can bring.

Benefits involve:

  • Saving money – Carers can enjoy discounts through paying for things online, yet only 31% of carers use the internet for saving money purposes
  • Research – Carers can gain valuable information and guidance for caring for a vulnerable individual through online information and health websites
  • Convivence – Through use of online shopping, banking and online booking systems, things can be done without having to leave the house
  • Support Networks – Carers can access support groups and online forums specific to those who care, where they can gain support from those who understand their position
  • Entertainment – For carers who may need to unwind from their potentially stressful responsibilities, they can enjoy e-books, online streaming platforms which provide tv shows and films and games, which can all be accessed through the internet

To enjoy the benefits digital use can bring, being well-appointed with the necessary digital skills is essential. There are now projects and support groups that help enable carers to become digitally equipped:

  • Carers UK – Carers UK is now working with Tinder Foundation to help carers improve their digital skills. This project will enable carers to have the ‘essential’ skills necessary for digital use, navigate social media, do online shopping and have access to valuable information about being online.
  • Digital Inclusion project – This project aims to support carers on their digital journey. Helping carers search the web, set up zoom, and use WhatsApp.
  • Mobilise – Mobilise breaks down digital skills into a meaningful guide, focusing on services that make a difference to carers

By Tabitha Desmond

Working for Carers is a London-wide project that supports unpaid carers, aged 25 or over, to move closer to employment. The project is led by Carers Trust and delivered by its network of partners across London. Working for Carers is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. Contact Working for Carers on 020 8868 5224 Ext 218/208.