Working when you are no longer a carer

You may no longer be a carer because the person you were caring for has recovered, or is in hospital or a care home. Or the person you cared for may have died. It is common to have many different feelings about this, and coping with bereavement is a slow process.

If you have been bereaved, try to keep your manager informed about how you are feeling and about any time off work you might need, including funeral arrangements. Your employer may provide compassionate leave. How much time off work you need will vary for each person. Your employer may have an employee assistance programme (EAP) that can offer emotional support and counselling.

If your caring role has changed or ended, you may want to go back to your previous work pattern. If you have been off work for a while, it may be helpful to have a gradual, flexible return. Going back to full-time work may take time to get used to. Talk to your manager if you need training or support to help you.

If you gave up work and are looking to get a new job, there is lots of advice available. Your local Jobcentre or Jobs and Benefits Office should offer you job search support. There are also websites that give career advice.

If you are no longer a carer

You may no longer be a carer for a number of different reasons. The person you cared for may have recovered and no longer need your support. Or they may be in hospital or a care home. Even so, you will still be providing some care. You could still be regularly visiting them, or be involved in decisions about their care.

You may no longer be a carer because the person you care for has died. Even if you felt prepared for this, you may still feel shocked and numb. It is common to have many different feelings, and sometimes physical symptoms. You may be deeply upset, and at the same time feel relieved. These are all natural and normal feelings to have. Coping with bereavement is a slow process.


Work and bereavement

Try to keep your manager informed about how you are feeling and any time away from work that you might need, including funeral arrangements. You could tell them what you want the people you work with to know, and if you are happy to be contacted while you are off work. Your employer may provide compassionate leave.

Having regular contact with your manager while you are off work means you can talk about any changes or support you need to help you return to work.

How much time off work you need will vary for each person. Some people take very little time off, while others need longer. Sometimes people who return to work quite quickly find they need to take some time off later on.

To begin with, you may need a temporary change in your hours or responsibilities, or to be able to work from home. Although there are often challenges when working in this situation, getting back into a routine can be a positive step.

You may worry about seeing your colleagues for the first time when you return to work. Although it can be hard to be reminded of your loss, it is also important to have it recognised. You can just give them a simple thank you. You don’t have to share any more than you want to.

You may find it hard to concentrate, feel very tired and be easily distracted. Talk to your manager if you think it would be helpful to have someone review your work.

Some people may not feel the full emotional impact of bereavement until some time after it has happened. If your employer has an employee assistance programme (EAP) you might find this helpful for emotional support and counselling. Let your manager and colleagues know when things are difficult and when you need their help.

We have advice on coping with bereavement and contact details of organisations that can help you. You can also call us for support on 0808 808 00 00.


Returning to work

If your caring role has changed or ended, you may want to go back to your previous work pattern. Whatever the reason for this, it often means a period of change. If you have been through a bereavement, you will still need support from your manager.

If you have been off work for a while, it may be helpful to have a gradual, flexible return. It is a good idea to have a catch-up meeting with your manager first and to have regular reviews.

Going back to full-time work, or to the responsibilities you had before, may take time to get used to. You may feel you have lost confidence or are out of date. Talk to your manager if you need training or support to help you. As a carer, you will have developed a lot of skills that employers value.

Getting back to your usual work life can also be a welcome change. It can give you routine and normality in life, and the chance to make plans for the future.

If you gave up work and are looking to get a new job, there is lots of advice on writing a CV, filling in application forms and performing well in job interviews. Your local library will have books on interview skills.

Your local Jobcentre or Jobs and Benefits Office should offer you job search support. There are different websites that give career advice. These include:

If you have gaps in your employment history because of your caring role, explain this on your CV or in person at an interview. Remember that you have developed many skills as a carer which may help you in your work.

Back to If you are working while looking after someone with cancer

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If you are working while caring for someone with cancer, it is important to get the support you need.

Your rights at work as a carer

It is important to be aware of your legal rights in the workplace. Your human resources department may be able to help you.

Making decisions about work

If you are a carer, you may want to stop working temporarily or completely. It is important to consider the implications of your decision.