Carers: we need support too

Here at Leukaemia Care, we support anyone affected by the diagnosis of a blood cancer, not just patients. However, often family and friends aren’t aware that support is available to them, especially if they also care for their loved one with blood cancer. These carers are the unsung heroes of blood cancer care. Here, we’ve outlined what support is available, and hear from one carer on the realities of looking after a loved one.

There is no doubt that carers play a crucial role in the life of a blood cancer patient. Whether you’re caring for a child, a partner, a parent or a sibling, carers are the unsung heroes. And it’s that word ‘unsung’ that we’d like to bring attention to. A blood cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed – it affects all of those near and dear to them. Whilst of course the main focus should be on the patient and their wellbeing, we at Leukaemia Care are firm believers that carers need support too. And indeed, there are in fact benefits to using the label of ‘carer’, both literally and figuratively. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a carer – after all, looking after our loved ones is something we often expect of ourselves and each other – using this label does entitle you to a range of support.

Who is considered a carer?

A carer in this context is not a care provider by profession, but a member of the public who helps another person in their daily routines and is not paid for this. This could include friends, family members, neighbours, or your partner. You are also recognised as a carer if you are the parent or guardian of a disabled child.

Caring can take up different amounts of time, depending on the needs of the person needing the care. The key thing is that you help them to do everyday things, that are necessary for someone’s wellbeing, but that the person is not able to do themselves. If you have recognised yourself in the description above, there is support out there for you. Thanks to the Care Act 2014, there’s no minimum amount of care you provide before you are entitled to support.

What kind of support is available to carers?

Carers in the UK are entitled to a carer’s assessment from their local council. Support can include:

  • Arranging someone else to provide care some or all of the time, based on whether you are able or willing to continue providing whatever care you give.
  • Help returning to work or study.
  • Having more opportunities to socialise.

A carer will be eligible for support from the local authority if, based on the assessment, they meet the eligibility criteria and the person they care for resides in the same local area. The carer will agree a support plan with the local authority. When you agree your support plan, you will be allocated a personal budget. It will detail the cost of providing you with support, the amount that the council will cover and, if applicable, the cost that the carer is covering.

Financially, carers are entitled to:

  • Carers Allowance, the UK state benefit for those caring for another person more than 35 hours per week.
  • Carers Credit, a scheme that fills gaps in your National Insurance record if you care for someone for 20 or more hours a week.

What we’ve outlined here is governmental support, but charities like ourselves and Carers UK are also here for you. For example, our counselling fund, which provides grants to pay for counselling sessions, is open to anyone affected by a diagnosis of leukaemia, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) or a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) – that includes family and friends.

You can read Dee Gascoigne’s carer story here.

 

 

To find out more about the support available to carers, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call us on 08088 010 444, or email support@leukaemiacare.org.uk.

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