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 making time each week to do something you enjoy. Or try to plan in some time to give you a break.

Support is available for carers. You have a right to a carer’s assessment from your social services or social work department. This is to see what help you and the person you care for need. During the assessment, you can discuss how to balance caring with other responsibilities, such as work and family life. A financial assessment will also be done to find out if you will need to contribute towards any services you get.

Carers’ services can be anything that will help you with your caring responsibilities, or maintain your own health and well-being. This can include:

  • respite care to give you a break
  • counselling to cope with emotional issues
  • help from local voluntary organisations.

Financial support is also available, including benefits and grants.

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. We have more information about other care options such as respite care. There are organisations that offer help to carers. You can search for local carers’ services and respite services on the Carers Trust website.

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, such as Carers UK and Carers Trust.

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 to help you cope with your emotions when you’re looking after someone with cancer.

Support from social services

The person you care for has a right to a needs 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.

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.

Carer's assessment

If you’re looking after someone with cancer, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Financial assessment

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 or from your local authority.

If you live in Northern Ireland, visit

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.

We have more information about the financial support you may be entitled to when you’re looking after someone with cancer.

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.

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.

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 the 6.5 million carers in the UK and highlight the challenges they face.