Support for you

If you’re caring for someone, you may be under a lot of stress. It’s important to take time to look after yourself. Remember no one expects you to do everything. You could try to do an activity you enjoy every week. You may find it helpful to talk to other carers. Also try to schedule some time off when the person you’re caring for is well.

Support is available for carers. You have a right to a carer’s assessment from your social services. You can discuss any issues about balancing work and caring duties. A financial assessment will help determine if you’re eligible for social services. Help can include:

  • a direct payment – to help you organise paid care services for your loved one
  • a paid care worker
  • aids and equipment

Carers’ services include:

  • respite care to give you a break
  • counselling to deal with emotional issues
  • Financial support is also available to help you cover the extra costs due to cancer. You’ll need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the following benefits:
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Carer premium
  • Carer's Credit

Looking after yourself

Caring for someone can be physically and emotionally demanding. It’s important to look after yourself, as well as the person you care for.

Being aware of the first signs of stress, and planning how to deal with them, can help you.

You may want to:

  • have a general health check with your doctor
  • make a list of activities you like doing and schedule in some time each week to enjoy one or two of them
  • spend time away from the house and/or person you’re caring for. There are organisations that offer help to carers.

To help look after yourself emotionally, you may wish to:

  • talk to other carers in similar situations, perhaps at a support group – Carers UK can help you find a group in your area
  • ask the hospital or GP surgery for information that will help you manage the emotional challenges of caring
  • talk to the nurses at the hospital where your partner, relative or friend is being treated
  • look at some of the organisations and websites that offer practical and emotional support for carers.

Time for yourself

Remember that no one will expect you to do everything.

You’ll need space and time for yourself to help you cope with the demands of being a carer.

One of the most important times to schedule time off from work is when the person you’re caring for is well so you can have some time to yourself. Try to make this a priority as it will be good for both of you.

You may find it helpful to read our information about the emotional effects of cancer.


Getting support

Support from social services

The person you care for has a right to a community care assessment from their local social services, social work department or health and social care trust. This is to see whether they have a need for social care services.

If you’re looking after someone on a regular and substantial basis, you also have a right to a carer’s assessment. This can be an opportunity to speak with a social worker about any help you need with caring, as well as what help you might need to keep yourself healthy. You might also discuss how to balance caring with your life, work and family commitments.

You may want to talk about:

  • any housing issues you may have
  • your own health and the health of the person you care for
  • the amount of time you spend caring and how you feel about it
  • any equipment you may need to help you continue to support the person, such as a wheelchair, commode or hoist
  • how caring is affecting your relationships
  • how you would deal with emergencies
  • your concerns for the future.

During a carer’s assessment, the social worker will discuss your concerns about your paid work. You should mention any problems you have in balancing working with caring.

When available, support from social services can be very helpful. For example, you could ask for a paid care worker to visit the person you care for at different times of the day, or days of the week, to fit in with a flexible working arrangement you may have.

There are set criteria about who is eligible for social services.

If your needs, and those of the person you care for, meet these criteria, these services must be provided.

A financial assessment will also be carried out to decide whether or not you would need to contribute to the cost of the service. As a carer, you should be assessed on your own resources and earnings, not those of the person you care for.

If you’ve been assessed as having a need for social services, you may be entitled to get direct payments from your local authority. These payments are also sometimes called individual budget/personal budget payments. This means that you are given payments to organise care services yourself, rather than the local social services organising and paying for them for you.

You can also have help with how you go about getting the care services if you are struggling with this. You should discuss this with social services when they agree to your payment.

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can get information about direct payments and individual budgets from gov.uk (in the disabled people section), or from your local authority.

If you live in Northern Ireland, visit nidirect.gov.uk (see the caring for someone section).

Help from social services for the person you’re caring for can include:

  • help at home – for example, to get them up in the morning, cook them a meal or help with their personal hygiene and care needs
  • access to a meal or, in some circumstances, help to prepare them a meal
  • day care services
  • aids and equipment
  • home adaptations
  • respite care.

Carers’ services can be anything that will help you in your caring role or maintain your own health and well-being while caring.

This can include:

  • respite care to give you a break
  • counselling to deal with emotional issues
  • help from local voluntary organisations, for example support groups and benefit checks.


Financial support

Having cancer can be expensive for both you and the person you’re caring for. There can be extra costs, such as travel to hospital, and your income may fall if you have to give up work or reduce your hours. However, there is help available, such as benefits, tax credits and grants. This includes help to meet NHS costs, such as travel for hospital treatment, prescriptions, wigs, dental treatment, and glasses and sight tests.


Carers may be entitled to other financial help.


Carer’s Allowance (non-means-tested/non-contribution-based)

Carer’s Allowance is a weekly benefit that helps people who look after someone with substantial care needs. Carer’s Allowance is £62.10 a week.

You may be eligible if you’re caring for someone who’s receiving one of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or higher rate
  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment at either rate.

Do I qualify?

You need to be aged 16 or over and be caring for someone for at least 35 hours a week to qualify for this benefit.

You don’t need to be related to or living with the person you care for. You can be working, but there’s a weekly earnings limit of £110 a week (after certain deductions). You can’t claim Carer’s Allowance if you’re studying for 21 hours a week or more. Students and carers who don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance may be able to protect their State Pension entitlement by applying for Carer’s Credit.

Carer premium

If you get Carer’s Allowance, you may also be able to get the carer premium. This is an extra payment that can be added to Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-related Employment and Support Allowance. There’s also an extra amount for caring that can be included in Pension Credit, and a carer payment may also be included in a claim for Universal Credit. To claim any of these extra payments for carers, contact the relevant department to tell them you are getting Carer’s Allowance. The payment should then be added to any benefit you are getting.

Claiming Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance overlaps with certain benefits, including:

  • State Pension
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • widow’s and bereavement benefits
  • contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

You can’t be paid Carer’s Allowance if you receive the same amount or more from these overlapping benefits. However, it may still be worth applying for Carer’s Allowance, as this may help you claim a means-tested benefit, such as Pension Credit. You may also receive credits that count towards national insurance. This is important, as you need enough national insurance contributions to be able to receive a state pension.

Claiming Carer’s Allowance can affect the benefits claimed by the person you care for. It’s a good idea to speak to a welfare rights adviser who can advise you on the best course of action for you and the person you care for.

How can I claim?

Call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321, textphone 0845 604 5312, or visit gov.uk/carers-allowance/overview

Carers may be entitled to other financial help. Speak to a welfare rights adviser for details.


Carer’s Credit

Carer’s Credit can benefit carers who aren’t entitled to claim Carer’s Allowance.

Carer’s Credit is a national insurance credit for carers of working age. It helps carers build up qualifying years for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension, so there are no gaps in your national insurance record if you’re taking on caring responsibilities. It isn’t a cash benefit. These credits can also count if you ever need to claim towards bereavement benefits.

We have more information about benefits you may be entitled to, or call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.


Back to If you're a carer

Being a carer

As more and more people are living with cancer, a greater number of people are taking on caring responsibilities.

Being there during diagnosis and treatment

When the person you care for is having tests or being treated for cancer, you may face a range of practical and emotional issues

Making decisions about care

If you’re a carer, you may sometimes find it difficult to know how much support you should and can provide.

Talking about your caring responsibilities at work

You don’t have to tell your employer about your caring responsibilities, but if you do, it can help them support you.

Caring when the illness gets worse

If cancer gets worse, you may no longer be able to care for your loved one at home. Support is available to help you.

Making decisions about work

If you’re a carer you may want to stop working temporarily or completely. It’s important to consider the implications of your decision.

Your rights at work

It's important to be aware of your legal rights as a carer. Your human resources department may be able to help you.

Carers Week 8 - 14 June 2015

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of carers in the UK and highlight the challenges they face.