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Work and caring – support with caring

Woman caring for an older smiling woman

Working and caring can be a challenge, so it’s important to look after yourself and to take the time to make sure you have enough support.

This could include connecting with others in similar situations, taking a break from caring, or exploring local support. Find out more:

Getting support early on can help you to manage working and caring. For example, if you’re just starting to look after someone, having support in place early can help you to adapt your arrangements in the future if things change.

Talking about care with the person you look after

Some people can find it difficult to speak to the person with care needs about getting more support. For advice on having these conversations, you may find it helpful to find your local carer support services on Carers NI (external website) or speak to others in a similar situation at a Carers NI online meetup (external website).

Support from your local Health & Social Care Trust

If you care for someone or need care, you may be entitled to get support from your local Health & Social Care Trust. Often, the first step to getting this support is understanding what’s needed.

To see what could make your life easier if you look after someone else, you can request a carer’s assessment (external website). Recommendations can include someone to take over caring so you can take a break or connecting you to local support.

To see what support or equipment could be provided to help the person who needs care live more independently and safely, they will be entitled to a care needs assessment (external website). You won’t be charged for such an assessment. However, the cost of support beyond assessment may depend on your financial resources.

To request an assessment or get more information, visit nidirect (external website).

There’s also other support available. For example, if you’re finding it hard to shop or prepare meals for the person you look after, some local authorities can provide meals services (also known as meals on wheels), or advice on how to access pre-prepared meals for yourself or the person you care for. Find out more:

Planning ahead

Support yourself by planning ahead and making backup plans. This can help make care sustainable and manageable if things change. For example, write down what care the person needs and what others should do if you can’t continue providing support for any reason.

You may want to talk to the person with care needs about setting up a power of attorney for themselves (you may wish to look even further ahead and set up one for yourself). A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you’re no longer able to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions.

There are two types of power of attorney (PA):

  • A power of attorney covers making decisions about finances and property and can start working while the person still has capacity
  • An enduring power of attorney deals with decisions about health and welfare and only comes into force when the person loses capacity to make their own decisions

You need to plan ahead for this as the person making the PA must have the mental capacity to consent to getting a power of attorney.

If the person you care for doesn’t have the capacity to make a power of attorney, it is still possible to get the legal agreements needed to make decisions for them by applying to the High Court (Office of Care and Protection).

Find out more:

Share caring with others

Consider if you want to do all the caring yourself or share with others. By sharing care, the person you care for could be supported if you’re unavailable. You’ll also find it easier to make time to look after yourself, and to combine work and care if you want to.

You might want to talk to family and friends to see if caring can be shared. Or you may be entitled to support from your local Health and Social Care Trust via a care needs assessment (external website). To support these conversations and understand your current situation, try to map out the people and services you interact with for support. This can help you spot any gaps in support and to discuss with others how caring could be shared.

Looking after yourself

Looking after yourself is important and will put you in the best position to combine work and care. When someone you know needs care, you can feel guilty for making time to look after your own wellbeing. Recognising these feelings and learning how others have dealt with challenging care situations can help protect your wellbeing, relationships, and your ability to support the person who needs care.

Get support to cope with guilt and difficult emotions on Carers NI (external website). Or find more Support services at nidirect (external website).

Breaks from caring

You might be able to take a break from caring while the person you care for is looked after by someone else. This is also known as carers’ breaks or respite breaks. A break could range from a few hours to a short stay in a care home. This can be part of the discussions you have if you ask for a carer’s assessment from your local Health and Social Care Trust.

Find out more:

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