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You are a carer if you provide unpaid support to someone who could not manage without your help. Many people do not think of themselves as carers, just someone who is looking after a relative or friend. Carers do a vital, demanding job often without any help or support. You can get help as a carer regardless of whether the person you care for gets support from the council or pays for their own care.
Being a carer can have a huge impact on your own life. We offer advice on how to look after yourself and get the support that you need.
We have a section on this site that is dedicated to carers, people who look after someone else. You can find information and advice on what support and services are available, how you get those services and more.
Carer Support Dorset is the lead carer organisation for Dorset and gives advice and support to all age, unpaid carers across the county where the person cared for is over 18. Carer Support Dorset’s aim is to create carer friendly communities where carers are recognised, valued and supported.
The Leonardo Trust
The Leonardo Trust is an independent charity to help people in Dorset who care for a sick or disabled relative or friend, full-time, at home. The Trust may be able to help you with:
Carers UK- 0808 808 7777 is a Charity who can offer support.
The assessment is an opportunity to discuss your caring role and what support you may need. You can get help as a carer regardless of whether the person you care for gets support from the council or pays for their own care.
Who can have an assessment?
You do not necessarily have to live with the person you're looking after or be caring full-time to have an assessment.
You can have an assessment whether or not the person you're looking after has had one. A combined assessment of both your needs could be undertaken at the same time if you wish.
What will the assessment cover?
A carers assessment is most beneficial when you are looking to improve your situation or change something. So, think about what you would want to achieve or change by undertaking an assessment.
Your assessment will focus on the impact that caring has on you and should cover:
We will offer you advice and guidance and tell you about other services and support that is available. The information you provide will help us assess your eligibility for council services.
Register with your GP as a carer
Tell your GP you are a carer, they will be able to offer advice and support.
We have further information on eligibility criteria for carers.
Getting an assessment
If you feel that a carers assessment would benefit you, contact us:
Complete a carers assessment
Complete a carers assessment online or phone 01305 221016
There’s also advice on what to do if the person you care for can no longer manage their affairs. This can be called Power of Attorney and is used by relatives or a friend who will make decisions on behalf of someone else when they are no longer able to safely do this for themselves due to their mental capacity.
Mental capacity is the ability to make decisions about your life. Making decisions could be affected by a disability or medical conditions such as dementia, brain injury or stroke. You may not be able to do the following:
People who cannot do these things lack the mental capacity to make decisions. This can apply to major decisions, for example about personal finance, social care or medical treatment or everyday decisions such as what to wear or eat.
Some important points to note are:
If you have already lost the capacity to make decisions, you can't grant power of attorney to another person.
In this case, the Court of Protection could make a decision on financial or welfare matters on your behalf.
A deputy is usually a friend or relative of the person who lacks capacity, but could also be a professional. Becoming a deputy is a serious undertaking - you will be responsible for decisions about welfare, healthcare and financial matters as authorised by the Court. You will need to make decisions in the best interests of the person lacking capacity.
If many decisions need to be made for a period of time, the Court of Protection can be appointed as a deputy to give them the power to make decisions on a person's behalf.
This can be a long and expensive process so it's important to act early and set up a Lasting Power of Attorney while you still have the capacity to do so.
You can apply to become an appointee in order to manage another person's benefits. This means you can make and maintain benefit claims, receive the money and spend it in the claimant's best interests. Appointees can be:
There can only be one appointee for each claimant.
Search our Directory for national organisations and local groups offering support for carers.
Age UK has information to help carers which can be read here.
Citizens Advice has information which can be read here.
As a carer it's important to have a plan in place to help the person you care for in an emergency. This could be in case you experience a sudden illness or accident, or if you are delayed getting to them.
Having a plan in place can help ease your worries if you're not able to care for the person you look after at any point in the future.
It's a good idea to put together details about the person you care for and keep it in one place. This should include:
Make sure you let your emergency contacts know where to find the information and keep their contacts handy so you or someone else can get in touch with them. Make sure you check the details regularly to make sure they are up to date.
Think about spare keys to where the person you care for lives. Consider a key safe where you can securely keep a spare door key and access it with a combination code.
The message in a bottle scheme provides a solution for keeping basic personal and medical details, is run by your local Lions Club (this example is for the East of the County). This scheme is recognised by all of the emergency services. Contact your local Lions Club for more information for the scheme near you.
In Case of Emergency (ICE) is a campaign started by a paramedic to help emergency staff quickly find who to contact. You can store the word ICE in your mobile phone address book with the number of the person you’d like people to contact, for example your back-up carer. If something happens to you, ambulance, police or hospital staff will look for the word ICE in your phone’s address book and call that person. If you have more than one person to contact in an emergency, you can list them as ICE1, ICE2, ICE3.
If your phone has a lock with a password, you can put ICE information on your phone’s lock screen. Your phone instruction manual will have information about how to do this or you can visit the ICE website to find out more.
Taking a break from your caring responsibilities.
Caring can place huge demands on your time and energy and for many carers, stress is simply a fact of life. It's important to take breaks for your own health and wellbeing. It can be easy to forget to do this, so think about how you are going to organise taking a break (often called respite care).
You might want respite care in the home, so the person you care for gets looked after at home while you take a break.
If you need regular respite or you want to be able to take a break for a few days or longer, you can get a care assistant to come and take over some of your caring duties. Some care assistants can come and 'live in' with the person you care for.
This service is not free, and the cost of care would normally be paid for by the cared for person.
If you just want to get away for a few hours, the Short Break Service may be able to help you. This is a sitting service rather than full care. The service is free of charge and there is a limit on the number of hours that can be booked. If you would like to use this service you will need a carers assessment with the council.
The person you care for may enjoy undertaking a hobby or going to an activity such as a lunch club, memory café or visiting a day centre. This may give you an opportunity for a break. Use our Directory to find lunch clubs or activities.
Charges for respite care in a residential home vary with the type of home and level of care provided, and may cost an average of £500 a week depending on where you choose to stay. The person you care for may be able to spend time away in a residential care home or nursing home, depending on the level of care they need. This would normally be for a minimum of a week, although some homes might cater for shorter periods such as weekends. Respite can be offered as a one-off arrangement or on a regular basis.
The person you care for will be responsible for paying for their break unless they have been assessed by us and this is part of their care plan.
There are a number of welfare benefits that can help you and the person you care for including:
Benefits calculator by Turn2Us
To read further information and apply for benefits online.Gov.uk
Council tax discounts
You may be eligible for a council tax reduction if you are an unpaid carer and live with the person you care for.
There may be a disabled band reduction available. Contact your local area office for more information.
When your caring role changes or ends
The Department of Work and Pensions need to know that you are no longer a carer if you have been receiving Carer's Allowance.
If you were getting a Council Tax discount because of your caring responsibilities, remember to let us know that your caring responsibilities have ended. If you're living alone, you may still be entitled to a single occupant's discount (25%) on your bill.
You may be entitled to other benefits if you are not in employment or unable to return to work, find out more here - apply for benefits online.
Dorset Shared Lives is an alternative to supported living, domiciliary care and residential care homes for adults with care and support needs. It was previously known as ‘adult placement’.
A Shared Lives carer and someone who needs support get to know each other and, if they both feel that they will be able to form a long-term bond, they share family and community life. This can mean that the person becomes a regular daytime or overnight visitor to the Shared Lives carer's household, or it means that the person moves in with the Shared Lives carer.
Shared Lives carers receive payment for the care and support that they provide, and where they provide long-term accommodation, they will also be landlord and be paid rent.
Shared Lives schemes
Shared Lives schemes have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission if they provide the regulated activity of personal care, as is the case in Dorset. Dorset Council employ Shared Lives workers whose role includes recruitment, vetting, training and support of Shared Lives carers. It is the scheme’s provision of personal care that is regulated, not the individual accommodation which is owned or rented by Shared Lives carers.
Shared Lives Schemes nationally provide good value for money and are consistently judged to be high-performing services by the Care Quality Commission. If you want to know more and the Shared Lives Plus website provide an insight into how great Shared Lives is.
Stepping into Nature runs lots of activities such as walking, singing and arts and craft.
Anyone can take part, with or without a carer, although most activities are targeted at residents aged 55 and over and many are dementia friendly.
Funded by the Big Lottery, the project helps to increase people’s confidence and independence, and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Take part in gardening workshops or gentle guided walks, try rural craft and outdoor cooking, and more. Visit the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for projects near you.