How can I look after myself as a carer?

The first step to getting support to help you is to recognise yourself as a carer. You might see yourself simply as a relative, friend or neighbour, doing what anyone would do to help someone with things they are unable to do themselves.

The fact is, if you are regularly looking after someone, including your spouse or a family member, because they’re ill or disabled, you are a carer and there is support out there for you.

Caring can be extremely hard work and isolating and nobody can cope alone.

Ask for help

Studies show that accepting help and working with others to support the person you care for benefits both of you.

Simply talking to friends and family about your caring role can help to relieve stress and worry. They may be able to offer out for a couple of hours to give you a break, or take one of your tasks off your hands.

There are lots of charities and voluntary organisations with helplines and websites that can offer support and advice.

Plan for the future

What would happen if you were no longer able to do your caring role, if you got ill or had to return to work full time? Develop a plan with family/ friends and the professionals involved in your loved one’s care so that everyone knows what will happen in the event of a change in circumstances or a crisis. This will give you and the person you care for better peace of mind.

As a carer, you may be entitled to certain benefits and services, but you have to apply for them, it doesn’t happen automatically.

You should complete a carer’s assessment which looks at your needs and how you can be supported. The NHS website has information on support and benefits for carers. You can also speak to your GP and discuss what support you and the person you care for need.

Telling work you are a carer is not always easy. You may worry they will think you are not completely committed to your job. However, they have a responsibility to support your wellbeing and often have measures in place to support carers or will be willing to explore ways to help you.

Talking to other carers can be really helpful as they understand what you are going through and you can share tips and advice.

Find a carers groups you can go to near you, or if you aren’t able to go out to a group there are plenty of online forums.

If you don’t look after your own health and wellbeing you will be less able to care for your loved one.

Talk to your GP

Let your GP know that you are a carer so they can support your health alongside that of the person you care for.

Care for yourself

Work on a plan to keep yourself healthy. Make time to eat healthily, exercise and have time for yourself. Try to maintain a good sleep regime.

Surround yourself with support

Even if you are coping now, there will come a time when you need extra support. It’s a good idea to get this in place now, or at least to know exactly how to access it when you need it. Support for you is ultimately support for the person you care for.

Feelings of guilt and resentment

Always remember you are doing the best you can. You can’t fix all the problems or make things perfect for the person you care for and you should not feel guilty about this. 

It is also normal if you sometimes feel resentment towards the person you care for. It can help to talk to someone about these feelings, especially if they become more intense and frequent and affect your ability to care. IAPT talking therapy can be really useful.

Take a break

Regular breaks, whether it is 10 minutes to have a quiet cup of tea or a week to go away on holiday, are vital. It will help you to look after yourself and make you a better carer. You need time to focus on yourself and recharge your batteries.

Respite care can be either residential or delivered in your own home. Find out what’s available to you and make a plan to take some time out on a regular basis.

Caring is hard work, physically and mentally. When it is for a loved friend or family member, the emotions involved can be exhausting. Don’t feel bad if you’re not coping. Speak up, and get the help and support that’s available.

You may find counselling or another talking therapy useful. It’s a good idea to contact your GP practice – they will have lots of information about services local to you. Or you can even refer yourself to some therapy services.

How can I get some additional support?

Here you can find a range of resources and practical support to help you as a carer.

As a carer, you may be entitled to one or more state benefits to help you with the costs.

  • Carer’s Allowance: The main state benefit for carers.
  • Carer’s Credit: a National Insurance (NI) contribution to help make sure you don’t lose out on some social security benefits, such as the State Pension, because of gaps in your NI record. This is if you look after someone for more than 20 hours a week and you don’t get Carer’s Allowance.
  • Carer’s Premium: An allowance you get on top of some benefits.

If you find it difficult moving bins due to your age or a disability, you may be eligible for an assisted waste collection service.

To be eligible you must have:

  • a disability or frailty caused by illness or old age that restricts you putting your bin out
  • no other residents in the property who are able to put the bin out for you.

Find out more.

Meal delivery services can help give carers piece of mind, knowing their loved one is getting a meal delivered every day.

Wilshire Farm Foods provide national meal delivery service – meals are chilled/frozen and will need to be heated at home tel: 0800 077 3100

Oakhouse Foods provide meal delivery – meals are frozen/chilled, so need to be heated at home. 0333 3706700

If the person you care for needs some extra help at home or need care cover whilst you are away or ill, the first step is getting an assessment from the Social Care Team at Rotherham Council. 01709 822 330.

The Social Care team can provide you and the person you care for, with an individual assessment of your needs and help put in place support to meet those needs.  This could be for things like washing and dressing, home aids and adaptations or in-home alerting systems like Rothercare, that help keep a loved one safe at home and will keep you informed of any emergencies.

The Social Care Team are also the ones who complete Carers’ Assessments.

A Carers’ Assessment is an assessment of your needs as someone looking after a loved one.  Carers have the same legal rights to an assessment that a person with care needs has.  A Carers’ Assessment is about looking at what you need as a carer, to keep on looking after your loved one whilst maintaining a life of your own and support you and your loved one during any changes in the care situation, for example if a carer can no longer care for their loved one.

Carers Emergency Scheme is run by Rotherham Council, is free of charge and designed to help you if you are faced with an emergency of your own and you are worried about what would happen to the person you look after. The Social Care Team will assist you in making arrangements for emergency cover for the period in which you are unable to care. To register for the Carers’ Emergency scheme please call 01709 822330

Assistive technology is a range of sensors and equipment which are used around the home to help assist you to live independently and as safely as possible. Some of these sensors and equipment are linked to the Rothercare Community Alarm System which is monitored 24 hours a day with a mobile response team who can visit you at home if you need assistance; for example if you have had a fall within the home.

If you live with someone we can provide you with a pager system which will alert your family member or carer that you need their assistance.

Assistive technology sensors can include sensors which will monitor personal and environmental risks such as; Falls, epileptic seizures, exiting the property at inappropriate times of the day, fire, gas leaks, carbon monoxide or even floods as a result of leaving the tap running.

Call 01709 822330 (Rotherham Social Care Team) for more information and to arrange supply of Assistive Technology.

If you require one of the following adaptions, please telephone the Rotherham Council Contact Centre on 01709 382121.

  • Key Safe
  • Half step
  • Grab rails
  • Internal hand rails
  • Lever taps

If you or someone you care for is having a mental health crisis, ring the Rotherham Crisis team on 0800 652 9571. This service is open to those experiencing a mental health crisis, including those affected by Dementia and young people known to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health team in Rotherham.

You can also call the Social Care Team on 01709 822330, who can provide support and information around dealing with a crisis.

Advice if you're worried about someone else

You may be concerned about someone who is a carer who you think needs some extra help and support. Some carers find it difficult to ask for help, as if they are letting down their loved one by not being able to do it all themselves. It’s important to reassure them they are not alone and that support will benefit them and the person they care for.

You may be worried that someone you know needs care support and don’t know how to broach the subject. They might feel they don’t want to be a burden, or they can’t see a decline in their health.

  • Keep a log of things you are worried about or that happen. This can help you keep track of what is happening and can be useful for  GPs and social workers when they are making assessments.
  • Take a gentle approach. It can be frightening and overwhelming for someone who is developing physical or mental health problems.
  • Talk to your loved one about your concerns. Try to take a positive approach, pointing out what could be done to help with some of the challenges they are facing rather than what is ‘wrong’ with them and what they can’t do anymore.
  • Keep the conversation open. It can take a long time to get someone to accept they need some support. Keep talking about it, but don’t overdo it. They may feel you are ‘nagging’ and stop communicating with you. Pick a time to talk when you are both feeling calm and remember to stay as positive as you can.
  • Get help for yourself. If your loved one won’t accept any help, you might need extra support yourself to help you cope. Get in touch with local carer support services to talk about coping strategies, options and tips on how to manage difficult situations.
  • If you think someone is at risk of harm/neglect. If you have concerns about someone’s welfare talk to your or your loved one’s GP, get in touch with social services or contact a carers organisation for impartial advice and guidance. If someone is at immediate risk of harm, call emergency services – police/ambulance.

There can be many reasons why someone won’t accept help or talk about any problems they may be having, particularly with mental health issues, including dementia.

  • Stigma – some people may feel ashamed or embarrassed about mental health problems or memory loss.
  • Lack of awareness – a person’s challenges may have developed over a long period of time and they have not noticed the gradual changes. As such, they may find it difficult to accept their health has declined to the extent that it has. With mental health problems, particularly dementia, the person may be completely unaware of the issues they are having. 
  • Emotional barriers – for someone who was once independent and in control of their life, it can be extremely difficult to admit that they are now struggling and need help, particularly with intimate things such as washing and dressing. Some people also feel guilty about accepting help and support. Try to help them understand that getting support will help to maintain their dignity and pride.
  • They don’t want to be a ‘burden’ –  along with “Other people need help more” and “My family have their own lives to lead”, these are reasons why they might feel more comfortable getting help from outside services rather than from friends and family.
  • Financial concerns – the general belief is that care at home is extremely expensive, but this is not always the case. A proper assessment by social services will determine the type and level of care needed as well as eligibility for financial support.
  • Conflicting opinions – it may be that someone in the family feels the person is fine and doesn’t need help and other family members feel differently. It is important to discuss the situation calmly and get opinions from as many people involved as possible, always keeping the best interests of your loved one at the forefront.

Local support

Find local carer support around Doncaster

Tel: 0344 499 4137


Citizens Advice Doncaster Borough offers free, confidential and impartial advice and campaign on big issues affecting people’s lives.



Phone: 01302 637566

Doncaster Parents Voice ( DPVoice ) is run by parents of children with a variety of additional needs, we exist to support families with disabled children whenever they need us. Parents often come to us at their most vulnerable and with no one to turn to, DPVoice offers support, information, advocacy, advice and peer support for families with similar issues. We have two fully trained volunteer independent supporters who help families going through the EHP process. DPVoice provides practical support such as admin and use of premises to The LADDER Group (Young Persons Disability Forum) as well as help with fundraising, activity sessions and events.

Tel: 01302 637566


Our service is open to all carers, former carers and professionals working with carers.

We are committed to providing services, which respond to carers needs and to enable carers and former carers to take an active part in our work.

Our service is free, confidential, impartial and non-judgemental.

In an emergency – If you need help, outside of office hours, then contact one of the following:

NHS Direct – if you need information or unsure whether you or your family need medical attention.

Tel: 0845 46 47  (available 24 hours).

Your doctor – if you are seriously concerned over your health needs, or those of the person you care for.

Social Services Emergency Team – if you need urgent support for yourself or the person you care for.

Tel: 01302 796000.

National support organisations

See what national support is available for carers.

Acas gives employees and employers free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice. Acas can provide carers with free advice on their rights at work and how to apply for Flexible Working Arrangements from their employer.

Call the Helpline on: 0300 123 1100

Go to website

Caring for someone who is elderly. 

Age UK Advice line: 0800 055 6112

Go to website

Tel: 0300 222 1122

Information and advice on all aspects of dementia. Open Monday to Wednesday 9am to 8pm, Thursday and Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm.

Go to website

Carers UK provide valuable support and advice on their website and via their helpline: 0800 808 7777 (freephone)

Go to website

Citizens Advice provide valuable support and advice on their website.

Go to website

Tel: 0800 888 6678

Information and advice on all aspects of dementia. Helpline staffed by Admiral Nurses. Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm. Closed Bank Holidays.

Go to website

Department for Works and Pensions – Support visits if you need help to claim benefits.

You may be able to get a home visit from a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officer to help you with your benefit claim.

You cannot book a visit yourself. Tell DWP you need help to claim benefits by calling the number of the benefit you’re applying for. If you’re eligible, they’ll arrange a support visit.  The DWP can also do this for visits to arrange and Appointee. 

Tel: 0345 604 3719

Go to website

The website has a section on Carers UK which provides advice and support for carers and the people they care for.  You can get advice on issues including:

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Credit

Carers’ employment rights

Tax credits


Go to website

Taking care of yourself as a Cancer Carer.

Go to website

Help for carers

If you’re a carer, you’ll find lots of information to help you on the NHS Website; support and benefits for carers and caring for children and young people.  You probably are a carer if you’re looking after someone regularly (including your spouse or a family member) because they’re ill or disabled.

Popular topics include:

Benefits for carers

Practical tips if you care for someone

Carer’s breaks and respite care

Help for young carers

Go to website

The Carers Trust provide valuable support and advice on their website.

Go to website

Support Apps

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
How would you rate your experience?
Do you have any additional comments?
Enter your email if you'd like us to contact you regarding your feedback.
Thank you for submitting your feedback!