practical ways you can offer support to a carer

Do you know someone who’s a carer? Are you unsure of how to support them? Let’s take a look at some simple ways you can support someone you know who’s a carer.

In their 2018 survey, Carers UK found that: 

  • 72% of carers in the UK report that their mental health had suffered as a result of caring 
  • 61% reported that their physical health had worsened as a result of caring 
  • 74% of carers feel their role isn’t understood or valued in their community 
  • not being able to talk to friends or family about caring leaves one in three carers feeling socially isolated 

This research shows the impact caring can have on someone’s wellbeing.  

As the friend or loved one of a carer, it’s natural to want to help and support them. And there are things you can do, practically and emotionally, that can make their lives a little easier.  

practical tasks 

Helping with everyday tasks can save the person you’re supporting time and energy.  

However, it’s important to offer your help, rather than jumping in without asking. This could end up being counterproductive and make them feel like they’re losing control, which can be more stressful than having lots to do.   

Try to identify specific tasks you could help with, rather than asking a general question.  

For example, you could offer to walk the dog or do the shopping, rather than ask, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ 

To identify where you could make a difference, make a list of everything that needs doing, prioritise where they really need help, and start there.  

You could also do some research into any conditions the person they’re caring for has. This will give you a better understanding of what areas they’re more likely to need extra help with. 

It’s important to be sensitive to the fact that some people may not accept help. Keeping busy can be an important coping strategy.  

If that’s the case, respect their wishes and try not to force help on to them. But don’t be afraid to offer support again in the future.  

Sometimes just knowing someone can help is as valuable as the help itself. They may be more willing to accept support from you at a later stage. 

Here are some ideas for practical tasks you could offer to help with: 

  • making a meal 
  • washing up 
  • driving to hospital or medical appointments 
  • helping to look after children or pets 
  • doing the laundry 
  • doing the shopping 
  • watering plants  
  • mowing the lawn  
  • removing weeds from the garden 
  • researching something online 
  • cleaning and vacuuming 
  • helping with paperwork, posting forms, or applications 
  • backup support  
  • making a budget 
  • researching other forms of support, including respite care 
  • finding training opportunities  

listening 

Being a carer can be emotionally and physically demanding. Carers report feeling worried, upset, angry, and guilty.   

They may also be dealing with things they’ve never faced before, such as applying for benefits or accessing health services. It’s important they have someone they can talk to about this.  

One of the most important things you can do to support a carer is give them the time and space to talk. 

These conversations can be challenging, especially if the person you’re supporting doesn’t really see themselves as a carer. But talking openly with someone they trust could be the first step towards them accessing the support they need.  

Here are a few tips that could help get the conversation started: 

  • set a time to talk. Often, people feel more comfortable and ready to talk if they know they’re not keeping you from something else. 
  • consider talking about lighter topics first. This can help people relax and feel less anxious about opening up.
  • take a non-direct approach. Rather than focusing on their circumstances, start by saying things like, “Many people in your situation…” or “Some people caring for a loved one find support by. . .” Anecdotes about someone they know who’s in a similar situation can help open up the discussion if you have them, too. 
  • acknowledge they may find the conversation uncomfortable by saying something like, “I’d love to talk to you about…you might think it seems silly…Please don’t be offended…”  
  • people sometimes worry they’re boring others, or that they’re a burden, so make it clear that they’re not. You could say something like: “It doesn’t matter if you’ve told me things before. If it helps you to talk, I’m here to listen.” 

Not everyone feels comfortable talking to friends and family, and that’s ok, too.

staying in touch 

Carers often have less time to socialise. Some may be unable to leave the house regularly due to their caring responsibilities.  

In addition, carers on a reduced income may struggle to find the money for social and leisure activities.  

But, just like everyone else, carers still need to know they’re valued and not being left out. 

Here are some things you could do to help them stay connected to their social circle: 

  • visit them, but ask first! Don’t just turn up unannounced – this could make them feel uncomfortable if they’re unprepared. 
  • provide refreshments. Whether you visit them or they visit you, make it your responsibility to provide food and drink to take the pressure off. 
  • suggest days out that could include the person they care for. Two pairs of hands can make a day out easier. Alternatively, they may prefer a break away from their caring responsibilities. In this case, you could help them to arrange suitable respite care for the day. 
  • offer to exercise with them. If their responsibilities allow, go with them to the gym or for a swim. If not, encourage them to try a home workout, like an online yoga tutorial. Exercise helps body and mind. Even more so when you can do it with a companion. 

Being a carer is challenging, but the right support from friends and family can make things a little easier. 

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)1, ACA students2, ICAEW staff members3, and the family and carers of members and students4

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is or was dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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