Support for carers

If you’re responsible for supporting someone who is disabled, you are a carer even if you don’t think of yourself as one. As a carer, you have rights and it’s important to know what practical, emotional and financial help is available. 

Nicola Slator and her daughter Rebecca Slator, 20, who is deaf, autistic and wears a tracheostomy.

This page gives you a brief overview of what support is available with useful links to find out more information. 

You’ll also find links to services we offer at Sense if you’re caring for someone with complex disabilities. 

On this page:

Am I a carer?

You’re probably a carer if all the following apply to you: 

  • You spend a lot of time caring for a person, a child or adult. There’s no legal definition of this, but it can mean anything from a few hours a day, to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 
  • You do things like help the person to wash, dress and eat, take them to regular appointments, help them do activities, do their shopping or keep them company 
  • You aren’t paid to look after the person you’re caring for 

You can be a carer at any age – and you don’t have to live with the person you’re caring for to be able to get help and support.  

Looking after your wellbeing

Caring for a loved who has complex disabilities can take its toll on you over time. It’s so important to look after your own wellbeing, for their sake as well as your own. 

Here are three things you can do: 

  1. Get a carer’s assessment
  2. Register as a carer with your GP 
  3. Make time for yourself and get a break

Get a carer’s assessment

All carers are entitled to a carer’s assessment. 

The carer’s assessment looks at how caring affects your life and work, and how you can carry on doing the things that are important to you and your family.  

It isn’t a test to check whether what you’re doing is good enough. It’s about finding out what support would help you in your caring role. 

You can have an assessment as an adult carer or, if you’re under 18, as a young carer. 

Get in touch with the social services department of your local council – or the local council covering the area where the person you care for lives – to ask for a carer’s assessment. Click here to find your local council.

Find out more about the carer’s assessment from Carers UK.

Register as a carer with your GP

Let your doctor know that you’re caring for someone. 

Caring can be hard. It’s important your GP practice knows and can look out for your health and wellbeing, as well as offer advice and support. 

Also, you may be entitled to other health services such as a free flu jab. 

Make time for yourself and get a break

When you’re caring for someone with complex disabilities, it can be so hard to carve out time to still do the things that make you feel like you. 

Your own interests and hobbies can often take a back seat. It can be even harder to get a proper break, even if only for a few hours. 

The carer’s assessment will help to find ways for you to get a break and have time for yourself.  

Sense is here for the whole family

Whether you’re a parent, sibling or other relative, we can support your family in lots of different ways. 

Help with the cost of being a carer

Carer’s Allowance 

Wherever you live in the UK, you may get a Carer’s Allowance if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week. 

Also: 

  • You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. 
  • You do not get paid more if you care for more than one person. 
  • If someone else also cares for the same person as you, only one of you can claim Carer’s Allowance. 
  • Carer’s Allowance can affect the other benefits that you and the person you care for get.  
  • You’ll have to pay tax on Carer’s Allowance if your income is over your Personal Allowance. 
  • For each week you get Carer’s Allowance, you automatically get National Insurance credits. 
  • You may also be eligible for a range of other benefits. 
  • If you live in Scotland and get Carer’s Allowance, you may also get Carer’s Allowance Supplement. 

How Carer’s Allowance works with other benefits

You won’t get Carer’s Allowance, or you’ll get a reduced amount, if you have some other benefits, including: 

If your Carer’s Allowance is either the same as or less than the other benefit, you will get the other benefit rather than Carer’s Allowance. 

If the other benefit is less than your Carer’s Allowance, you will get the other benefit and the balance of your Carer’s Allowance on top. 

Extra amounts on other benefits if you get Carer’s Allowance

If you get Carer’s Allowance, you can get an extra amount called a Carers’ Premium or Carers’ Addition added to any of the following benefits: 

The rules can be complicated. For help and more information contact Citizens Advice.

Carer’s Credit

If you care for someone for at least 20 hours a week, you might be able to get Carer’s Credit.  

This is a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in your National Insurance record and is important for your State Pension. 

Visit gov.uk to find out more about Carer’s Credit.

Managing your work and being a carer

If you work as well as care for someone, it can be a lot to juggle.  

It’s important to know your rights as a working carer. 

Your right to flexible working 

 Flexible working can help you to balance your work and caring responsibilities. 

Wherever you are in the UK, you have the right to request flexible working arrangements if you’ve been working for your employer for at least six months. 

It’s worth checking your employer what rights they provide. They may have better rights to flexible working than the basic rights available to all working carers. 

Flexible working might mean: 

Changing your working hours 

You work the same number of hours, but maybe you start work earlier or finish later. 

Working compressed hours 

You work the same number of hours but over fewer days – instead of 9am to 5pm over five days, you might work 8am to 6pm over four days. Or maybe you compress ten working days into nine days over a fortnight. 

Job sharing 

You share your job with a colleague and split the hours between you. 

Part-time or term-time working 

You may prefer to look at working shorter days or fewer days. Or maybe working during school term time only and taking paid or unpaid leave or your salary is paid on a pro-rata basis.  

Your right to time off in an emergency

If there’s an emergency that involves a person who is dependent on you, you have the right to time off. This can your partner, your parent, your child, or someone else who relies on you for help. 

An emergency might be, for example: 

  • Your usual arrangements for care are cancelled or changed. 
  • The person you care for is ill, has an accident or dies. 
  • You need to organise long-term arrangements for the person you care for. 

Get support from Sense

We’re here for everyone living with complex disabilities and their carers.

This content was last reviewed in April 2022. We’ll review it again next year.