Being a carer

If you look after a family member or friend who needs support, you are a carer.

There is no standard image of a carer. Caring for someone can be a gradual process, or it can happen suddenly. It can last for a few weeks or several years. It can occupy a few hours each week or 24 hours a day. You may help someone wash or dress, drive them to appointments or do their shopping. You may also provide company or emotional 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. Make sure health and social care professionals know you are a carer. You are part of the care team and it is important you receive the information, help and support you need.

Do I have to be a carer?

It may seem as if you have no choice because of your family situation and relationships. However, you have the right to decide the extent of your role as a carer.

Many people feel guilty if they do not 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.

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. You may find it easier if the person you are caring for moves into a nursing or residential home. You can still provide care, but with added support.

You can talk to anyone at Dorothy House, or a social worker or district nurse in the community about your choices.

Before making any decisions, talk through the options with everyone involved, including the person you’re caring for.