Support for carers

We describe someone who looks after a family member or a friend who needs support as a carer. There's no standard picture of what a carer looks like. You might not describe yourself as this.

Becoming a carer

Becoming a carer can be a gradual process, or it can happen suddenly. Caring for someone can last for a few weeks or for several years. Being a carer can occupy a few hours each week or 24 hours a day. As a carer you may help someone wash or dress, drive them to appointments or do their shopping, as examples. You may provide company or emotional support, supporting them with their mental health needs.

Information and support

Caring can be very rewarding, but it can also be hard work and stressful. It can be a confusing time, with lots of information to take in and unexpected changes to deal with in relation to your loved one’s needs and in relation to your own life.

Make sure health and social care professionals know you are a carer. If your GP surgery have you recorded as a carer, they will know the person you look after needs other support if you become unwell.

You are part of the care team and it is important you receive the information, help and support you need. Below, we have listed a variety of resources which offers information and support for carers.

Do I have to be a carer?

It may seem like you have no choice because of your family situation or a relationship. However, you have the right to decide the extent of your role as a carer. Not everyone feels able to provide hands-on care.

Many people feel guilty if they don’t want to be a carer. Some people feel that asking for help means they can’t cope, but there is nothing wrong with making sure the person you look after receives the best care possible and that your own health does not suffer through you exhausting yourself.

There might be some tasks that you aren’t comfortable with, such as helping the person you care for to wash or use the toilet. Paid carers (usually through an agency) can visit to help with these tasks. If the person you are caring for needs to move into a nursing or residential home, you can still provide care if you wish.

You can talk to anyone at Dorothy House, or a social worker or district nurse in the community about the help you, and the person you are caring for, need.

Family Support Team

The Family Support Team provides a range of services for patients and family members, adults and children, pre-and post-bereavement. The team provides practical and emotional support through:

What to expect from a statutory carer's assessment

Support for carers means you’re entitled to a carer’s assessment (Care Act 2014, section 10) from your local authority. This is separate from the assessment of the needs of the person you are caring for (Care Act 2014, section 9). This is an opportunity for you to talk about the care you provide and the impact it has on your life. The assessor will look at the support you get and whether other services could help you. They’ll also advise you on any benefits you’re entitled to and other sources of help.

The assessment should take place somewhere convenient, such as at your home. You can ask to talk to the assessor without the person you care for being present. Tell them what would help you, and be honest about the amount of care you can give. The assessment will take your interests, work and other responsibilities into consideration.


Tel: 0300 2470201 and select option 2


Tel: 0300 123 2224


Tel: 0800 181 4118

Caring for someone at home

As a carer, you can talk to your Nurse Specialist or a member of the Family Support Team at Dorothy House or to your GP, district nurse, social worker or hospital staff about what help you can get at home.

If you provide hands-on care, you may need information and advice about lifting and moving the person you care for, helping them to wash, understanding what they can eat, side effects of medication and how to recognise new symptoms. You may find that because you are doing all this, other things you once did may have to become less of a priority.

Practical support for carers from professionals can include information about the illness, planning ahead in the event of an emergency (such as if you were taken ill) and support for you.

Emotional support can be provided by the Dorothy House Family Support Team and by local carers’ organisations.

If the person you care for requires care from an agency and needs help to fund this, your Local Authority will both assess their care needs and their finances.

Courses, groups and services for carer support

Other carers are a great source of information, support and advice. So, to help you tap into this we host regular informal Coffee Connection get-togethers for people with palliative care needs, carers, family members and bereaved people – so that you can meet with others who are going through similar experiences.

Learn more about our Coffee Connection group here.

24hr Advice Line

Patients and carers can ring the 24hr Advice Line for patient care and advice on 0345 0130 555.

Please see additional services you can access below.


Companions service

Volunteer Companions visit patients at home, usually once a week for 2-3 hours to provide companionship and emotional support. This could involve going for walks, a visit to a garden centre or going out for coffee, or sitting at home having a chat. Companions can also visit so that carers can have a break, knowing the person they look after has company and someone who will get help if there is an emergency. Learn more here.

Complementary therapy

Dorothy House provides free complementary therapy to carers (as well as to the person who is ill). Therapies include massage, reflexology, Bowen and Reiki. Complementary therapy can help with relaxation and taking time out for yourself. If you would like to be referred, speak to your Dorothy House worker or contact the Clinical Coordination Centre on 0345 0130 555. Visit our Complementary Therapies page here.

Overnight care

The Dorothy House Hospice at Home team can provide overnight care for patients who are approaching the end of their lives. This enables family members to go to bed knowing they will not be disturbed unless an emergency. Learn more about our Hospice at Home service here.

Our fantastic Hospice at Home carers have shared their stories of working at the Hospice here.

Young carers

The Children and Young People’s Service (CYPS) in Dorothy House’s Family Support Team supports people up to age 18, pre- and post-bereavement. Support is offered both on a 1:1 basis and in groups.

There are also specific carer organisations which support young people: they offer social activities and the chance to meet someone to talk to. If you know a young carer who might appreciate some help, please speak to your Dorothy House worker or call our Clinical Coordination Centre 0345 0130 555 or talk to one of the organisations below.

Support for carers

B&NES Carers Centre

Visit their website here.

Tel: 0800 038 8885


Somerset Carers

Visit their website here.

Tel: 0800 31 68 600


Carer Support Wiltshire

Visit their website here.

Tel: 01380 871 690 or 0800 181 4118 (Freephone for carers)

Top tips for looking after yourself

It is important you look after yourself so you stay well for your own benefit and so you can continue to look after the person you care for. As far as is possible, try to continue with activities that nourish you.

Take a break

Without an occasional break from caring, you can become exhausted or unwell. A break will give you time to do things you may not be able to do while you’re caring, such as catching up with friends and family or having a rest. You may want to talk to a Dorothy House social worker if you are finding it difficult to achieve this.

The Dorothy House Day Patient Service provides the opportunity for the person who is ill to attend sessions for social contact and to give the carer/family member a break

Don’t ignore stress

Signs of stress may include loss of self-esteem, lack of concentration, exhaustion or even hostility towards the person you care for. If you feel stressed, it’s important to seek advice and support. Contact your GP surgery and tell the practice you are a carer. Additionally, the Family Support Team at Dorothy House will support you or refer you to the most appropriate service.

Ask for help

Other carers are a great source of information, support and advice. You can meet other carers at one of the groups we run.

If you need to arrange temporary care for the person you’re looking after, your local Adult Social Care team may be able to organise care in the home, visits to a day-care centre, or a short stay in a care home if the person you’re looking after meets their criteria (care needs and financial).


The Dorothy House Bereavement Service offers 1 to 1 support to families and friends who have experienced the death of someone they have been close to and who was under the care of Dorothy House.

We offer community bereavement support via Bereavement Help Points – weekly/bi-monthly drop-ins for anyone in the community who has been bereaved regardless of when/who/how. These Bereavement Help Points are located in Bath, Keynsham, Calne, Malmesbury, Shepton Mallet, Chippenham, Corsham and Devizes – latter 3 are facilitated in partnership with Carer Support Wiltshire.

Find a Bereavement Help Point near you here.

We run a fortnightly walking group ‘Walking through Grief’ and a weekly ‘Writing through Grief’.  These community bereavement initiatives are facilitated by trained volunteers, overseen and coordinated by The Bereavement Service.

Find out more about our Walking Through Grief groups here.