Employers can help their business and their staff by creating a ‘carer friendly’ workplace. With good practice in place for working carers, employees can help their employer and themselves by having open discussions about their caring role.

Carers are very good at looking after other people but can sometimes neglect their own health and wellbeing. It is important that you take care of yourself when you are juggling work and your caring role. Contact your local Carer’s Centre to find out what support is available for you.


3.1. Introduction

Working carers are more likely to need support at work, and often different levels of support at different times; from access to a telephone to check on the person they care for to taking leave to help out when someone is being discharged from hospital.

Many staff are reluctant to talk to employers about their caring role in case it affects promotion prospects or even the security of their job. Over the next 20 years, it is projected that the number of employees with a caring role will increase from the current 3 million to 4.5 million. Employers can help their business and their staff by creating a ‘carer friendly’ workplace. With good practice in place for working carers, employees can help their employer and themselves by having open discussions about their caring role.

Local carer centres try to reflect on the needs of working carers by raising awareness, liaising with local employers and HR professionals, providing them with information to ensure that they are aware of carers’ rights and entitlements. Carer centres may be able to provide 1-2-1 support to working carers on employer’s premises after work or during lunch breaks, out-of-hours support, or help them in preparation and discussions about their caring role with employers.

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3.2. How can Carer’s Centres Help?

Carers’ centres are usually independent charities that provide tailored support to help carers balance the demands of a caring role. They offer information, advice, and practical support for carers in their local area either by telephone, drop-in, or outreach services.

When you contact your local carer centre you will have the opportunity to talk through your concerns with a support worker. Some people find it hard to open up about their problems, but these conversations help you to have more self-awareness about your own needs and feelings and help the support worker to advise you of your options so you can make an informed decision that is right for you.

Your local carer centre can help with:

  • Benefits advice
  • Help to complete your Carer’s Assessment form
  • Support or liaising with social care services
  • Information about respite and support services (short break from caring)
  • Emotional support or refer you to specialist counseling services
  • Training e.g. about your rights, challenges of a caring role, how to deal with stress, nutrition, dementia
  • Understanding your rights
  • Preparing to talk with your line manager about your caring role e.g. helping you to recognise your needs, find out your options, think about how to reach an agreement with your employer, writing a formal request.

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3.3. Working Carers’ Support

Over half of all carers are in some sort of paid work. As a working carer, you are likely to need a range of support at different times – from access to a telephone to check on the person you care for, to leaving arrangements to deal with someone coming out of the hospital.

Talking to your employer about your caring role is not always an easy step. You may feel it depends on whether your employer is likely to be supportive. Find out by asking your colleagues, HR department, personnel officer, or union representative. There may be existing support that you are not aware of, or you may find that your employer is open to exploring new ways to support you. Carer Centres can support you in discussions with your employer ensuring that they are aware of their rights and responsibilities to you as a working carer.

Confidential Carer Support via Email or Drop-in Appointments at your Workplace

Working carers often find it difficult to speak directly to their carer centre due to work commitments, time constraints, or hectic lifestyles. If you prefer to receive carer support via email your local carer centre is able to offer this service. All correspondence will be dealt with in a confidential manner.

If you are in full-time employment and struggle to find time to book an appointment with your local carer centre some of them can offer you a drop-in 1-2-1 appointment at your workplace.

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3.4. Financial Assistance: Money and Benefits

Carers pay a high price for taking on a caring role, sacrificing many aspects of their own life and savings to support their cared for. As a carer, you or your cared-for may be entitled to claim one or more benefits. There are a range of benefits available to you, but if you are unsure as to what type of financial assistance you could get or you need help with filling out forms, please get in touch with your local carer centre for information.

Carer’s Allowance is £62.10 a week (2015/16 rate) to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs. You don’t have to be related to, or live with the person you care for but you must be 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them and you won’t be paid extra if you care for more than one person. Carer’s Allowance is not being replaced by Universal Credit, but it is taxable and can affect the other benefits that you and the person you care for get.

Who can claim?

To qualify, the disabled person you care for must already get one of these benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment – daily living component
  • Disability Living Allowance – the middle or highest care rate
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

You might be able to get Carer’s Allowance if ALL of the following apply:

  • you are 16 or over
  • you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
  • have been in England, Scotland, or Wales for at least 2 of the last 3 years
  • you normally live in England, Scotland, or Wales, or you live abroad as a member of the armed forces
  • you are not in full-time education
  • you are not studying for 21 hours a week or more
  • you earn no more than £110 a week (after taxes, care costs while you are at work and 50% of what you pay into your pension) – don’t count your pension as income
  • you are not subject to immigration control

You might still be eligible if you are moving to or are already living in another EEA country.

Effect on other benefits
When you claim Carer’s Allowance, the person you care for will stop getting:

  • a severe disability premium paid with their benefits
  • an extra amount for severe disability paid with Pension Credit, if they get one
  • Reduced Council Tax – contact their local council to find out if this affects them

Effect on your benefits
When you claim Carer’s Allowance your other benefits may be reduced, but your total benefit payments will usually either go up or stay the same.
Before claiming Carer’s Allowance you should get advice from your local carer centre.

How to make a claim
You can apply for Carer’s Allowance by post or online.

You will need

  • both you and your partner’s National Insurance number (if they have one)
  • your bank or building society details

You also need details of the person you care for. You need their:

  • date of birth and address
  • National Insurance number or Disability Living Allowance reference

If you’re studying or working you will also need your:

  • employment details including dates and how much you were paid
  • course details if you are studying
  • latest payslip, or P45 if you’ve recently finished work

You can backdate your claim by up to 3 months.

How is Carer’s Allowance paid?
You can choose to be paid either weekly in advance, or every 4 or 13 weeks.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for disabled children and adults to help with extra costs that may arise because of the disability. It is not based on the disability itself but on the needs arising from it. For example, if you need someone to help look after you or to access support services. DLA is available whether or not you work and it isn’t usually affected by any savings or income you may have.

DLA is ending for people who were born after 8 April 1948 and are 16 or over, but you will continue to get it until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) writes to you and tell you when it will end or invite you to apply for PIP. You must apply within 28 days from the date on the letter.

Please find out more about DLAs and PIP on the following link:
DLA for Adults:
DLA for Children:

If you are over 65 and have a long-term disability or health condition which means you require help with your care needs, you could be entitled to Attendance Allowance. It is paid at 2 different rates and how much you get depends on the level of care that you need. This could make a huge difference to your life especially if you are dealing with a long-term health condition that may have taken away some of your independence. Other benefits you get can increase if you get Attendance Allowance.

What is Attendance Allowance used for?
Attendance Allowance can be used on anything you choose, including paying for any help that you rely on friends and family for. These are some of the things people use their Attendance Allowance for:

  • taxis to get to and from the shops
  • someone to do the garden, clean the windows, help with housework
  • the additional cost of heating if you need to keep warm when you are unwell
  • a special diet that helps you to manage your health condition
  • aids, adaptations, and appliances to make life easier for you
  • flowers or treats for friends and relatives who have helped you out
  • holidays, weekend breaks, or trips to see friends or relatives

Please find out more about Attendance Allowance on the following link:

You can get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if your ability to work is limited by ill health or a disability. ESA has two elements, contributory ESA and income-related ESA. You may receive either one of these or both together, depending on your circumstances. You must have a Work Capability Assessment while your ESA claim is being assessed. This is to see to what extent your illness or disability affects your ability to work.

Please find out ESA on the following link:

The Government is making some changes to the social security support system over the next few years and some of the benefits will be replaced by Universal Credit. People can claim Universal Credit if they are a new claimant in certain areas, but different areas may allow different types of people to claim.

Click on the link below to find out the full list of the jobcentres where couples and families can claim Universal Credit at the moment:

People who live in a jobcentre area listed above may be able to claim Universal Credit if they are on a low income or out of work. There’s no limit to the number of hours claimants can work a week if they get Universal Credit, their payment will reduce gradually as they earn more. Claimants won’t lose all their benefits at once if they are on a low income.

Please find out more about Universal Credit on the following link:

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3.5. Breaks from Caring

Everybody needs a break sometimes, however, carers often struggle to find the time for themselves or recognise their own needs. As a carer, you may be entitled to have a break from caring to improve your health and well-being and to access a range of short and long-term support which can assist you in your caring role.

Short Breaks and Activities
Most local carer centres run a variety of short break groups and activities to help carers focus on their own needs and work on developing personal skills and interests. The groups also help carers to overcome some of the negative effects often experienced due to a caring role, such as social isolation, depression, and poor physical health. These friendly, informal groups usually meet on a weekly or monthly basis and offer carers a variety of practical, creative, and social activities to enjoy. Most of these short break groups are free; however, there may be a small fee for certain activities. Carer centres can also give you advice on what other types of breaks are available from different providers within your area.

Respite/Replacement Care
To access short or long-term respite arrangements from local statutory health and social care services, you can request a carer’s assessment that may identify that you need a break from caring. Respite may be offered in different ways that meet your needs and the person you care for. Replacement care could include a short stay at a local care home, care staff spending time at home with the cared-for person, or attendance at a local daycare service.

These are just examples and for those who wish to, alternative provisions can be made through the use of Personal Budgets. These can be paid in the form of Direct Payments giving both the cared-for and the carer greater choice and control. Personal Budgets can be money allocated to meet social care needs from the local authority or from a Personal Health Budget from the NHS allocated to meet health and wellbeing needs.

More information about Personal Budgets:

More information about Personal Health Budgets:

Emergency Respite Care
Emergency respite may be arranged for you in the instance of a sudden illness, accident or other emergency and plans can be put in place with local services that you or the cared-for person may use for these situations. There are also local schemes run through health and social care services to offer emergency support, and you should ask your local carer centre about what is available in your local area.

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3.6. Emotional Support and Counselling Services

Eight out of ten carers state that they have felt lonely or socially isolated as a result of their caring responsibilities. These statistics, taken from a report produced by Carers UK, clearly highlight the negative impact that caring can have upon an individual’s social life and emotional wellbeing. Loneliness and social isolation can also be contributory factors within various physical and mental health conditions. Some studies have also indicated that social isolation can be a contributory factor within health risks such as smoking and obesity.

Caring for someone can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and carers may need support to cope with their emotions in order to stay healthy and to enjoy their own lives as much as possible alongside their caring role. Carer centres offer vital personalized support to carers depending upon their individual circumstances and need; this can include 1-2-1 support from staff, counseling services, befriending support from other carers, training, group work, and social activities.

Carer centres provide opportunities for carers to take a break from their caring role and focus upon their own needs for a change. Getting involved in activities can help to rebuild self-esteem and confidence by alleviating some of the emotional distress associated with some aspects of being a carer, which can often leave individuals feeling socially isolated and lonely.

Counseling services offer carers regular space and time to talk and explore worries, anxieties, low self-esteem, and overcome trauma or emotional difficulties with the help of a trained professional. Counseling is not about advice or telling carers what to do, the counselor will help to clarify issues and feelings and help towards the way that is right for the carer.

People often feel more relaxed when sharing their issues with someone in a similar position to themselves rather than a family member or professional.
Carer centres can offer carers space to set up a peer support group allowing them to share and resolve issues independently and feel less isolated as carers.

To access information and support to help you in your caring role, please contact your local carer centre to find out more about activities and services that are available in your area.

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3.7. Carer’s Assessments from the Local Authority

The Care Act gives carers additional rights which means that local authorities must provide support to all carers. The Act acknowledges that caring comes in many forms and states that the local authority has a duty to carry out a Carer’s Assessment whether the carer has or may have needs for support, and if so what those needs are.

The assessment looks into the well-being of carers and how they can fulfill their own lives, in addition to their caring roles. This might be to continue working, or studying, or simply to be able to socialise with friends and family to stay healthy.

The Carer’s Assessment is delivered through local Adult Social Services and is your opportunity to discuss with your local council what support or services you need personally. They will look at how caring affects your life, including your physical, mental, and emotional needs, and focus on what you need to continue fully or partly with your caring role.

Different Local Authorities may use different terms to describe Carer’s Assessment these include sometimes known as a:

  • Carer’s Needs Assessment
  • Care Assessment
  • Care Needs Assessment
  • Community Care Assessment
  • Joint Needs Assessment
  • Shared Assessment
  • Single Shared Assessment
  • Carers Self-Assessment

The Carer’s Assessment (for the person providing unpaid care) differs from the Needs Assessment (for the person needing care). You can agree to have a combined or joint Needs Assessment, but having a separate Carer’s Assessment can be more beneficial, because this looks at what things could be done to make your role as a carer easier and what support is needed to enable you to stay healthy and have a life of your own.

TIPS: Things to think about when taking a Carer’s Assessment:

To get support from your local authority you have to meet certain eligibility criteria:

  • What do you do for the person you are looking after?
  • Do you live with the person you care for?
  • Does caring affect the quality of your sleep?
  • Is your health affected (e.g. back problems) by your caring role?
  • Are you able to leave the person you care for?
  • Are you able to spend enough time on other family responsibilities?
  • Do you work and are worried about having to give your job up?
  • Do you have any quality time for yourself?
  • Do you need any training to support you in your caring role?
  • Would you like to get emotional support?

You may also want to mention how caring has affected your family life, work, or other activities and commitments. The assessment will also discuss what you would need to know in an emergency, as well as what support is available to help you get back into work, take part in leisure activities and improve your own health and wellbeing. The Carer’s Assessment only gathers information about the carer’s needs.

You can find out more about how to request an assessment and the eligibility criteria in the Carers’ Rights Topic.

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3.8. Why is it Important to Tell your GP that you are a Carer?

Looking after yourself is very important especially when someone else relies upon your support as their carer. Staying healthy, both emotionally and physically, will have a positive impact on your ability to cope with your caring role.

It is important to tell your GP that you are a carer to enable them to identify the correct support for your needs. If all GP practice staff are made aware of your caring role you are more likely to be offered;

  • A free annual health check and possibly a free annual flu vaccine;
  • Flexible appointments e.g. arranging appointments for both you and the person you care for at the same time to avoid having to visit the surgery twice;
  • Arranging for repeat prescriptions to be conveniently delivered to your nearest pharmacy;
  • Individually targeted health care for yourself as a carer by signposting you to appropriate organisations where you can access specific information and support e.g. social care and local carer centres;
  • The opportunity to get involved in the ‘Patient Participation Group’ at your practice to make sure your view is heard and listened to;
  • SMS messaging keeps you up to date about relevant events;
  • Supporting information to confirm your caring role;

To register as a carer with your GP, ask your practice’s receptionist for a Carer Registration Form which you should complete and return to them. The information you provide will be confidentially recorded on your medical records.

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Carers UK Factsheet - Carers Assessment