Becoming a carer for an elderly relative can seem daunting. But don’t panic – there are many sources of help available.
Help for your relative
The first step is a community care assessment (‘health and social care’ or ‘section 47’ assessment), carried out by your local social services. It assesses the level of care, home adaptations or any special equipment your relative needs. Depending on their mobility and ability to manage their personal hygiene and meals, your relative may be eligible for home help. However, funding is dependent upon your local authority, as policies vary. If your relative moves in with you, don’t worry – this won’t affect your eligibility for support.
Help for carers
You will have a carer’s assessment. This isn’t a test of your caring skills, but an evaluation of the help you need to care for your relative. Don’t be tempted to underestimate the support your relative requires to prove you’re capable or protect their feelings; you need adequate support to care for them as well as possible. Someone may come to help with their personal care, giving you a short break, and there may also be help with home adaptations.
If you’re aged 16 to 65 and caring 35 hours a week or more, you may be able to claim carer’s allowance, which in turn may enable you to other benefits. Call Carers Direct to check what you’re entitled to (details below).
Carers’ Centres provide ongoing support, advice and social gatherings with other carers. Don’t dismiss this as unimportant – regular breaks, support and a social life are vital for your mental and physical health. Carers Direct can advise on longer breaks and arranging respite care.
The Motability scheme is available to people with disabilities – even if they don’t drive themselves, it enables them to apply for a car in which they will be a passenger.
Carers Direct offer free, confidential advice and information. Call them free on 0808 802 0202 8am- 9pm Monday to Friday and 11am-4pm at weekends, or visit:
Crossroads Care and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers have merged to form the leading carers charity Carers Trust: http://www.carers.org/, and can supply a wealth of information and practical help.