Support for carers

Are you a carer?

Carers look after family, partners or friends in need of help because they are ill, frail or have a disability. The care they provide is unpaid.

Carers include adults, parents or children and young people. They might be adults looking after other adults, parent carers looking after children with a disability, young carers under 18 years of age looking after someone who has a long-term health condition or an armed forces carer. Carers may provide emotional as well as physical support, including care for those with mental health concerns and addictions. Without the care they give, those benefiting from their help would find difficulty managing or may be unable to cope, yet on average for 25% of carers it takes five years to recognise themselves as a carer.

When you look after someone who needs a lot of support, there may be times when you need help too.

Support for carers

You are not alone. There are an estimated 115,000 carers who live and care in Surrey. This number has certainly grown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. All key organisations work together in Surrey on a single approach to supporting carers. This includes the NHS, Surrey County Council, local councils and the voluntary, community and faith sector.

Carers are more likely than the rest of the population to be affected by health problems such as depression, stress-related illness or back pain caused by moving or lifting the person they care for. Carers and the people they look after are also more likely to be on a low income. Many carers combine working with caring, with some caring for more than 50 hours on top of working full time: while others may give up work or reduce their hours because of their caring responsibilities.

First step to accessing support

Whether you're new to caring, or if you've been a carer for some time, Action for Carers Surrey should be your first stop for free independent information, advice or support.

They can help provide:

  • access to a variety of support groups
  • confidential telephone support
  • information on services, including benefits
  • practical help on moving and handling
  • advocacy and information on your rights
  • wellbeing events
  • free resources and
  • opportunities to influence change for carers locally and nationally.

They have specialist support for young carers (under 18, as well as young people aged 18-24); and carer advisors in Surrey's five main hospitals. There's also tailored support for armed forces carers.

If you'd like to find out more, please call Action for Carers on the number below, or complete the carers registration form.

There is also good information and practical support for parents of children with disabilities and siblings on Surrey Local Offer.

Crossroads Care Surrey

Crossroads Care Surrey provide breaks from caring. This is referred to as 'respite care' where the person you care for is looked after by someone else for a period of time. It lets you take time to look after yourself and helps you stop becoming exhausted or run down.

Their purpose is to improve the quality of life of carers and the people they care for and to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing. Crossroads Care support carers by enabling them to take a break from their caring role by providing one of their highly trained carer support workers.

Their other services, which operate throughout Surrey, include:

  • End of life carer support service: In partnership with the NHS, Crossroads Care Surrey can provide a free, end-of-life carer support service for carers and people affected by life-limiting illnesses. A palliative-care-trained carer support worker will take over the caring role, giving the unpaid carer regular breaks.
  • Clubs: They offer a range of clubs across Surrey for adults with varying disabilities, giving carers an extended respite break. All clubs must be pre-booked. They also run a children's club for children with complex health needs and disabilities.

Call: 01372 869970

Email: enquiries@crossroadscaresurrey.org.uk

Website: Crossroads Care Surrey website

Tell your GP you are a carer

It is important that your GP knows you are a carer so they can provide you with the support and help you need. They may also be able to tell you about services that could improve your life as a carer. To register as a carer with your GP ask for their Carer Registration Form, complete that and give to the practice staff.

Dementia carers' support

If you are caring for someone with dementia there are a number of dedicated support groups and schemes that can provide you with support and advice. You can find a scheme near you by visiting the Surrey Information Point website. This video explains the impact looking after someone with a mental health issue and how to get support.

View on YouTube

SABP has a useful carers' handbook for anyone looking after someone who is receiving support or treatment from the trust.

The Alzheimer's Society Dementia Navigators also offer information and practical guidance to help you understand the condition, cope with day-to-day challenges and support you in your caring role.

Digital tools

Carers UK also provides carers in Surrey access to a wide range of digital tools and essential resources that may help make your caring situation easier.

You can access the digital tools, listed below, for free via the Carers UK Digital Resources website (Your Free Access Code is: DGTL3562) or use the links below to get more information on each of the tools:

  • Upfront a simple tool to support you to navigate the benefits and entitlements system. Fill in your details, spend a couple of minutes answering questions and you'll be guided to the information you need.
  • Jointly - an app which helps you manage and coordinate activities and share information between those who you share the care with.
  • E-learning - a variety of courses which aims to help you identify and find resources, technology and sources of support to help you in your caring responsibilities

Discussing your needs

If you look after someone you have the right to a 'carer's assessment' to identify your own support needs. This is a conversation with you to understand more about your role as a carer and the impact on your life and your family. It should explore your health and wellbeing, employment, other responsibilities and relationships and what support you may need to have a life outside of caring. It's also important to discuss emergency planning in case you are unable to care for whatever reason and it's clear what might need to be done if someone else takes over. Action for Carers has a good emergency planning form to help carers prepare.

If we are assessing the needs of the person you look after, we will offer you a carers assessment as part of the process. You can also request one by completing our online self-assessment tool so we can look at the impact your caring responsibilities have on your life and what social care support you might be eligible for.

When carrying out the assessment, the council will adopt what is called a 'whole family approach'. This means considering how the needs of the person being assessed impacts on other family members, or anyone in their support network. This is especially important when there are young members in the household.

If you are eligible for support from us your needs could be met by a range of options, including paid services and services provided by the voluntary sector, such as training on moving or handling, help with claiming benefits, improving digital skills to manage your caring responsibilities or access to social groups. If you are not eligible we will give you information and advice on where you can get the help you want.

Financial advice

There may be a number of benefits, which you could be entitled to as a carer. The person you care for may also be entitled to benefits.

Your local Citizens Advice provides free, confidential and professional advice, including a benefits check service. This useful booklet helps you understand your welfare benefits entitlement.

The Carers UK benefits calculator can also help you find out about benefits and entitlements.

If you are looking after the finances of the person you care for, you may also want to explore legal issues like power of attorney. For more information on managing someone else's affairs visit the Citizens Advice website.

End of life care

Are you seeking information and further guidance on how to make decisions together about end of life care? Or perhaps you have recently lost a loved one and need help with immediate practical, legal and financial issues as well as coping with grief.

Caring to the end is an online resource that brings together a wealth of practical, legal and financial information for Surrey carers who are caring or who have just lost a loved one, as well as advice on coping with grief and where to go for support after caring. It also includes specific information targeted towards young carers and parent carers.