Carers are people who provide support to others, whether they are friends, relatives or neighbours. Anyone can become a Carer at any point in their life.

People receive care for many and varied reasons, including

  • Serious physical illness
  • Long-term physical disability
  • Long-term neurological conditions
  • Mental health problems
  • Dementia
  • Addiction
  • Learning difficulties

Each carer’s experience is unique to their own circumstances.

The below video about taking on a caring role is from Carers Wales. For further information and support please visit Carers UK.

A Carer is anyone, including children and adults, who look after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.

Someone who looks after their spouse, who has severe dementia, helping with day-to-day tasks is a carer. A teenager who offers emotional support and helps to keep the household running as and when the fluctuating nature of their parent’s mental health requires it – is a carer. Someone caring for their friend who is terminally ill, whilst also holding down a full-time job – is also a carer.

You can be a carer temporarily to support someone in the short-term or your caring role may be more long-term. These situations are very different, but are all examples of the 5.7 million carers in the UK today (Carers Trust).

Many people do not see themselves as a carer, but they have a vital and important role in providing person centred care and often they will know the ‘cared for’ person better than anyone else. Nonetheless, caring for someone can be hard, and additional support may be available. This can be identified through something called a “carers assessment“. This does not cost anything and is a conversation about an individuals caring responsibilities and any help they may need. Find more information in the next section “Help available for carers – Carers Assessments”.

A carer’s assessment is a free assessment for carers over 18 years old who provides regular unpaid care to another adult over 18 years old.

Any carer who appears to have needs for support can have an assessment which will be carried out by the local council. This process is not an assessment of a person’s capabilities as a carer, it is an opportunity to record the impact of caring and what support or services are required to help make life easier as a carer. Sometimes the support can be as simple as having a chat to understand from the carer how they are feeling and the support they require.

If you provide care for an adult and think you may qualify for assistance, you can request a Carers’ Assessment by contacting your local Adult Social Care Team, details can be found at the bottom of the page.

Watch the below video from Carers UK to find out more about Carers’ Assessments:

Carers have a range of roles regarding safeguarding – they can be the person who raises the concern, be vulnerable to harm and abuse themselves, or they can be abusers.

Carers may be involved in situations that require a safeguarding response, including:

  • witnessing or speaking up about abuse or neglect
  • experiencing intentional or unintentional harm from the adult they are trying to support or from professionals or organisations they are in contact with
  • unintentionally or intentionally harming or neglecting the adult they support on their own or with others

Report a Safeguarding Concern.

Risk of abuse to carers

Research has found that the risk of abuse to carers themselves increase when the following incidents occur:

  • The carer is isolated
  • The carer lacks access to practical and /or emotional support from family, friends or professionals.

Carers can also be at increased risk of abuse from the people they care for, when the cared for:

  • has health and care needs that exceed the carer’s ability to meet them
  • does not consider the needs of the carer or family members
  • treats the carer with a lack or respect or courtesy
  • declines help and support from external services
  • insists on being cared for full time by their friend or family member
  • exerts control over financial resources, property and living arrangements
  • is aggressive or displays frightening behaviours
  • has a history of substance misuse and/or difficult or challenging behaviours
  • does not understand their actions and their impact on the carer
  • is angry about their situation and seeks to punish others for it
  • does not meet the criteria for support, after reaching out to services

Risk from Carers to those they care for

There is a risk of harmful behaviour, or neglect, whether intended or not, that carers could pose to the person they are caring for. These risks tend to be greater where the carer:

  • has unmet or unrecognised needs of their own
  • are themselves vulnerable
  • has limited understanding of the needs or condition of the person in their care
  • are being abused by the person
  • feels unappreciated by the person or exploited by relatives or by services
  • are feeling emotionally and socially isolated, and has no personal space or life outside the caring environment

It is vital that Carers and those they care for, have access to timely advice, information and support, including robust assessments and care and support planning. Each local Council in Tees has a dedicated webpage for carers and those supporting them, these webpages, can be found at the bottom of this page “Sources of Support and Advice“.

Those caring for individuals who have experienced trauma or have PTSD can experience secondary trauma from listening to traumatic experiences or being exposed to symptoms of trauma. What this means is that the carer can then develop their own symptoms because of indirect exposure to someone else’s experience of trauma; it is therefore important, where appropriate, that carers and the cared for receive the correct support from carers services, their GP and counselling services for example.

Domestic Abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender, age or sexuality. Domestic Abuse can happen to anyone, with 1 in 5 adults experiencing Domestic Abuse in their lifetime. This includes:

  • A carer who is afraid of or is being hurt by the family member or partner they are caring for
  • The cared for person, feeling afraid of or being hurt by their partner of family member who is caring for them
  • A carer or the cared for person feeling afraid of or being hurt by someone else, who is either a partner or family member.

Domestic abuse is often difficult to spot the signs of and can be a ‘hidden’ form of abuse. Psychological Abuse (sometimes referred to as emotional abuse) can be much harder to spot than other forms of abuse without the signs of physical abuse but it can be just as damaging. Psychological abuse can include being humiliated, controlled or threatened with physical violence. It can include being shouted at or sworn at, being stopped from seeing friends and family and made to feel that the abuse you are experiencing is your own fault.

Domestic Abuse may also include neglect, where the cared for needs are not being met. For example if the cared for is not being provided with adequate and suitable food and drink, is not being washed and provided with clean clothes, is not being provided with the medication they need or is denied medical assistance when required.

It is often hard for professionals to speak to carers and the cared for on their own. Efforts should be made to create a safe space to ask questions and to give both parties an opportunity to talk on their own.

More information about Domestic Abuse can be found on our Domestic Abuse webpage

If you think that yourself, or someone you know may be experiencing Domestic Abuse you can:

  • Call 999 if it’s an emergency or contact the Police on 101 if it’s not an emergency.
  • Contact your local social care team – Report Abuse
  • Call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence free phone helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Visit our Find Support in Your Area page for Specialist Local Domestic Abuse Services

If you have been asked to provide care to someone who is already abusive towards you or someone who is already abusive to you has been asked to provide care to you, such as a partner or family member, please speak to your local domestic abuse and social care team for support.

  • Professionals should work with carers to ensure they have a full picture, that carers are consulted and involved in decisions as far as is reasonably practical and that their contribution to supporting and keeping the cared for person safe is recognised and promoted. The Stephen Learning Briefing – Information for Carers highlights more information regarding Carer’s rights and how carers should be involved and consulted with in planning and delivery of care.
  • Practitioners need to understand both the needs of the cared for person and the needs of the carer, ensuring they understand the difference between carers assessments/ assessment of need and that these are carried out where appropriate. A carer themselves may also have care and support needs and therefore are eligible for both a carers assessment and an assessment of need. Local authority Social Care teams are responsible for carrying out the assessment of need.
  • Practitioners need to recognise carers stress and act upon this where it is identified, ensuring assessments are carried out to identify if the carer has the ability to fulfil their caring role.
  • Practitioners need to be professionally curious, particularly where there are concerns around Domestic Abuse, ensuring that this is assessed, risks are identified and where appropriate, referrals are made to specialist services and safeguarding concerns are raised.

Useful Resources:

Carers and safeguarding: a briefing for people who work with carers

Supporting people who provide unpaid care for adults with health or social care needs – a quick guide for social care practitioners.

Norfolk SAB – Domestic Abuse and Older Adults

NICE Guidelines Supporting adult carers

SCIE Webinar: Supporting adult carers

Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board Seven minute briefing: learning from domestic abuse.

This e-learning course aims to raise the awareness and skills of care staff who work with people with dementia. It aligns with Tier 1 of the National Dementia Training Standards Framework, which is a requirement for all staff working in social care. It will also allow you to collect evidence towards the relevant section of the Care Certificate.

The Herbert Protocol is a National scheme adopted by police services and local authorities across the country.
It encourages carers, families, friends or neighbours, to hold useful information about a vulnerable person with dementia that can help the police find them if the person goes missing.
The basis of the scheme is for vital information about the person such as medication, description, mobile number, photograph, significant places in the person’s life and their daily routine, to be recorded on a form.
Find more information and complete the Herbert Protocol form via Cleveland Police.

A young carer is…

Someone aged under 18, who supports or is impacted by a family member who needs help e.g. brother, sister, parent/ guardian.

The young person may take on the caring role due to a family member having a mental health issue, illness or disability (physical or learning) or misuses drugs or alcohol.

Support is available from The Junction Foundation who offers support to young carers and their families. Visit The Junction Foundation’s website for more information.