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What does a carer need?

What does a carer need?

Becoming a carer, whether full-time or part-time, is challenging for anyone, but more so for those that are elderly themselves or for those who are very young, teenagers or young carers. Carers can come from all walks of life. Many carers have families of their own or have jobs or are in education and must manage other commitments in addition to the caring role they have taken on.

When we talk to carers, words that they often use to describe how they feel are; stress, tiredness, lonely, guilt, anger, fatigue, irritation, depressed and sad were a few. They spend long hours looking after their loved ones, often with no time off or breaks, leaving them socially isolated and overwhelmed. Whilst many carers take on the caring role voluntarily, a large majority feel they have no choice. If, for example, it’s a parent who needs care, children often feel a sense of obligation and guilt to look after them. Or it could be a disabled child who needs his or her parent to look after them. When the caring role is that of a close family member or friend, where emotional bonds run deep, the carer is usually focussed on the needs of their loved one, neglecting their own. This results in low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, a loss of personal identity and often depression.

For carers to do their jobs well, we need to take active steps to look after them and their needs.

So, what does a carer need? The simple answer is consistent and easily accessible help and support.

1. Financial Support
Many carers have given up their jobs to care for their loved one full time or have reduced their working hours resulting in lower incomes, reduced pensions and fewer job prospects. The Government recognises this and carers are entitled to Carers Allowance as long as you work as a carer for at least 35 hours each week. Additionally, Carer Grants can become a financial resource to make ends meet.

Carer grants from local councils share Government funding received between social services, local carer groups and charities.

Whilst there is financial support available for carers, it may be overwhelming to get the process going and understanding what the eligibility criteria are, what forms need to be filled, where do the forms need to be sent, etc.

If you are a carer, we recommend that you visit your local carer centre (link/tel) and speak to an advisor who will guide you through the process of accessing additional financial support and help you with application forms, filling them out, sending them to the right people and helping you in any way you need.

2. Emotional & Wellbeing Support
This is probably the most important need of a carer. The long hours of caring for a loved one, coupled with the emotional toll and frustration of seeing a loved one suffer, can leave a care vulnerable to depression, stress and feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. We’ve often met carers who have told us that they simply need someone to talk to or someone who would just listen to them.

There are several local carer centres and charities like Harrow Carers(Link to website) who conduct workshops on mindfulness, stress-relief and yoga and have trained counsellors and therapists who work closely with carers, supporting them through their emotional and mental challenges.

If you are a carer, struggling to cope, please contact your local carer centre or call xxx xx ( is there a helpline they can call?) who will direct you to the closest carer centre or charity in your area.

3. Employment Support
Finding work that fits around caring for a loved one or after they are no longer carers (in the event of a bereavement), can be a challenge for many carers. If they have been full time carers for several years and have been out of the work force, they often lack the confidence and necessary skills to re-enter the workforce. Many don’t know how to write CV’s and cover letters or what to wear for an interview or even what to say in an interview. They need handholding to even begin the process. We have met carers who are able to take a part-time, flexible role, but don’t know where to look for such roles.

That’s where projects like Working for Carers(link) can help. Working for Carers focuses on helping unpaid carers get back into the workforce, keeping their needs, abilities and circumstances in mind and working with them to find the most workable employment solutions to their specific situations.

4. Support after they stop being carers
What happens to a carer after they stop being carers? If the person they are looking after passes away or moves into a care facility, the person looking after them may feel lost and without purpose. They may need bereavement or grief counselling, help with finding employment and generally re-entering society through support groups and counselling.

Local carer centres and charities such as Carers Trust, or Carers UK, Harrow Carers, will be able to help. If this is you, please do not hesitate to contact your local carer centre or charity or call 020 8868 5224 for help.

Carers are a vital part of UK society, contributing over £100 billion to the economy. With the ageing population, the number of unpaid carers in the UK will only grow, increasing the importance for support for carers. Whilst they are looking after the needs of people unable to take care of themselves, as a society we must look after their needs.
Here’s how you can help.

Top tips for carers returning to work

Top tips for carers returning to work

Are you a carer thinking about returning to work? It may be that you are no longer a carer or your caring responsibilities have reduced or are able to work part-time, around your caring duties.

Whatever your situation, entering or re-entering the workforce can be daunting. We have and are currently working with carers with a variety of different situations who are looking to make their entrance into the workforce and the single, most common question we hear is “where do I start?”

Whilst most are excited and optimistic, for some, the thought of the process of getting a job, is so overwhelming that they give up even before they’ve started. Many of the carers suffer from feelings of guilt, low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in their abilities due to skills gaps and being away from the workforce for an extended period.

At Working For Carers, our aim is to provide a comprehensive carer support service for carers trying to back into employment, whether full time or part-time to fit around their caring responsibilities.

We thought we’d share some of our top tips for carers keen to get back into employment.

1. Think about what you want to do
What sort of job would you like to do? Would you like to work with children, or in an admin role, or would you like to work in retail or in a technical/IT role? Once you narrow down the type of work you would like to do and you have the skills for, you can focus on looking for a role in those areas.

2. Volunteer
Volunteering is a wonderful way to get into an industry or sector that you don’t have previous experience of. It not only builds your skills and adds to your CV, but it gives you the chance to understand what kind of job you would like.

3. Recognise your skills
The National Careers Service has a Skills Health Check which involves a set of quizzes and activities designed to help you explore your skills and interests. This might be useful to help you decide what job might be right for you.

4. Be organised and systematic
Keep a diary or notebook on hand to jot things down so you don’t forget.

5. Be communicative and responsive
If you have meetings or interviews scheduled, make sure you get there on time. If you need to cancel or are going to be delayed, inform the person you are supposed to meet.

6. Network and talk to as many people as you can.
Don’t isolate yourself. You never know; your neighbour or sister’s friend or friend’s acquaintance might have a role that would suit you perfectly.

7. Retrain to update your skills
There are sometimes specific education grants and bursaries that you can apply for – the website has some information on grants and bursaries for adult learners.

8. Free Workshops
Attend free workshops that will get you job-ready.

9. Prepare a CV
Without one, it’s almost impossible to get a job. CV writing takes time and you may need some guidance. Think about attending our CV writing workshop to get the support you need. (link to cv writing workshop)

10. Prepare for interviews.
Job interviews can be intimidating, especially if it’s the first one. Our interview workshops are designed to give you the confidence to ace the interview. (link to interview workshop)

The good news is that there is support available for carers in the UK and we would encourage anyone looking to get back into work to take advantage of these support services. Please do not hesitate to give us a call on 020 8868 5224 if we can help in anyway, to guide and support you in finding flexible employment that will work around your carer responsibilities.