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Becoming A Carer For A Loved One - Information And Support

From payments to wellbeing tips, here’s everything you need to know if you’re taking on the care of a family member or friend.

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Becoming A Carer For A Loved One - Information And Support
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There are estimated to be more than 10 million carers in the UK.

 

Taking on the role of carer for your child, partner, parent, relative, or friend means helping manage their daily activities such as cooking, bathing, going to the toilet, dressing, taking medicine, going to appointments, housework, shopping, transport and more.

 

As for why someone might become a carer of a loved one, this can be due to a variety of factors. It may be that the person they are caring for:

 

  • Has a medical condition
  • Lives with a disability
  • Is elderly
  • Experiences mental health challenges

 

While every person’s situation is different, generally the decision to provide care for a loved one is motivated by love, compassion, and a sense of duty. It also comes with a unique set of challenges and rewards. They may care for their loved one for 24 hours a day, or select hours and days per week. Carers of family or friends may also still work a casual, part or full-time job alongside being a carer. 

 

This article explores the journey of becoming a carer for a loved one, delving into the support systems, legal aspects, and the emotional challenges that caregivers can experience.

Where to start as a carer for loved ones

So you’ve decided you’re taking on the role of caring for a family member or friend. What happens next?

 

The first thing you should do is register as a carer with your GP. All GPs should have a Carers Register that they can put you on and the person you are caring for. If the person you care for has a different GP, it's worth contacting theirs to register also, to ensure both surgeries have this information.



You can also register at the hospital of the person you care for, so they know who to contact if ever needed.

 

Local support groups and caregiver networks can also offer valuable assistance. Perhaps the easiest way to find networks nearest to you is by visiting Carers Trust online. Just enter your town or postcode and it’ll suggest groups and services you can check out.

Legal and financial factors

Becoming a carer may entail making legal and financial decisions for your loved one. These decisions can include setting up power of attorney, guardianship arrangements, and creating a will or advance care directives. Seeking legal advice is essential to ensure that you are fulfilling your responsibilities in accordance with the law.

 

You can also visit the Department of Work and Pensions website and use their benefits calculator to find out what payments you may be eligible for.



Some of the benefit types include: 

Emotional support as a carer

Caring for a family member involves some emotional and mental challenges. It's common to feel frustration, exhaustion, and even guilt at times, and that is nothing to feel ashamed of. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 71% of carers have poor physical or mental health.

It’s important to also prioritise your mental wellbeing as much as you can whilst caring for a loved one. While it’s easy to put your own needs aside to care for someone else, you cannot keep giving from an empty cup without it impacting your mental health.

There are some daily activities you can try to help reduce stress and improve your emotional wellbeing. These include:

Move your body:

This could be as simple as going for a walk, or doing some gardening. Anything that gets you active can help with your mental health [1]. Being outdoors is an added bonus. Studies have shown being out in nature can improve cognitive function and mental health [2].

Get enough sleep:

Adults should be getting 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Research has indicated that not getting enough shut-eye can increase negative emotional responses to stressors, and decrease positive emotions [3].

Eat a nutrient rich diet:

A healthy, whole food rich diet has been linked with better stress management and mental health [4].

Do something for yourself:

Whether this be going to grab a quick coffee, reading your favourite magazine or listening to an episode of a podcast, finding even a small pocket of the day to do something for you will help you to de-stress and recalibrate. 

Socialise when you can:

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention state that when people are socially connected they are more likely to have better mental and physical health outcomes [5].

 

There are also a number of amazing mental health support services catered to carers and their loved ones:

 

  • Carers UK - Offer support resources for carers dealing with stress and other mental health challenges.
  • SHOUT - Confidential mental health support 24/7 via text, on 85258.
  • MIND - Open 9am to 6pm, Mind infoline provides resources for different types of mental health challenges, and where to get help. Call 0300 123 3393.

 

You can also speak with your GP about mental health support options.

 

If you need immediate mental health support you can call Samaritans on 116 123, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. For emergencies call 999.

 

About the Author: Gabriella Del Grande

Having begun her career as a journalist, Gabriella has been weaving words to create engaging and educational content for over a decade. Gabriella loves to write insightful pieces that empower readers to take control of their health and wellbeing so they can live their lives to the fullest. Along with crafting articles, Gabriella has an eye for design, producing and overseeing visual content from short-form Instagram reels and TikToks to long-form brand campaigns and video series.

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