Get information and support if you need help looking after someone with cancer. If you're a carer giving unpaid support, find out what help is available.

What is a carer?

You are a carer if you give any unpaid help and support to someone with cancer who could not manage without your help. This includes a partner, family member, friend or neighbour.

You may not see yourself as a carer. You may think you are just helping out. Recognising you are a carer can be an important step in getting the support you need.

Being a carer for someone can mean:

  • giving emotional support
  • helping with everyday tasks
  • driving them to appointments
  • talking to other people on their behalf, such as health and social care professionals
  • helping with personal care.

Caring for someone with cancer

If you are the main carer for the person with cancer, tell their healthcare team. You can also talk to them about any concerns you have.

If the person you are caring for is in hospital, talk to the healthcare team about organising any support and services you need before they come home. At home, the district nurses, social worker or occupational therapist can usually arrange more help if it is needed. We have more information about looking after someone at home.

How much you do and what care you provide may change over time. You may start to do less if the person you are helping has finished treatment and is recovering. If the cancer becomes more advanced, you may decide to do more. This depends on your situation.

We have more information about planning ahead for the future.

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Coping with being a carer

Every caring situation is different. Your responsibilities will depend on what the person needs and what you are able to offer. You may be sharing these responsibilities with family or friends, or you may be the main carer.

Being a carer can be rewarding. But the physical and emotional demands can be difficult. You might have a lot of different feelings, such as sadness, anger, guilt and loneliness.

You may have to balance caring with other things, such as working and other relationships. Getting support and having someone you can talk to about how you feel might help you cope.

Becoming a carer can be a big change in your life. It can take time for you to adjust to the changes. It is important to look after your own well-being and health needs.

Who can support me?

Different health and social care professionals can support you as carer. If you are the main carer for a person with cancer, ask social services for an assessment of your needs. This is called a carer’s assessment. The assessment may help you get practical support, if you qualify.

It is a good idea to think about who might be able to help you, such as family and friends. If you are finding it hard to cope, try to talk to someone about how you are feeling. You could talk to a friend, your GP, or call the Macmillan Support Line.

As a carer, you may also need financial support. You may be able to claim Carer's Allowance. If you qualify for Carer's Credit, it protects your right to a State Pension later in life.

Caring for someone who is dying

Knowing that the person you are caring for will not get better can be a difficult situation to cope with. We have more information about caring for someone who is at end of life.

You can also call the Macmillan Support Line for practical and emotional support.

How we can help

Macmillan Cancer Support Line
The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. If you need to talk, we'll listen.
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