Every year 2 million people become carers, so the first thing to remember is you are not alone! It is important to recognise yourself as a carer. Many people do not see themselves as a carer.

Carers provide unpaid care by looking after ill, frail or a disabled family member, friend or partner.

Whether you are a husband, wife, son, daughter, friend or neighbour, if you are providing unpaid care to a friend or loved one you need to recognise yourself as a carer in order to seek the help and support you need.

Here are some tips to assist you in your new caring role:

1) Tell someone

Don't try to cope with your caring role alone. Tell family and friends so they are aware of your extra responsibilities and work load.

Make your G.P aware that you are providing a substantial amount of care; they may be able to provide you with a regular health check.

2) Speak to Social Services

Social Services are there to help people with illnesses, disabilities and their carers. As a carer you are entitled to a Carers Assessment which will identify any services which could benefit you. Social Services can provide a range of information and adaption's which are designed to make your life easier.

3) Caring and employment

You may want to consider telling your employer of your new caring role. There may be existing support or flexible working arrangements you can utilize. Identifying small areas such as having access to a telephone or parking near your workplace may assist putting your mind at ease.

4) Check your benefits entitlement

If you have given up employment to become a full time carer you may be entitled to receive benefits. If you are already in receipt of benefits, you maybe unsure if you are receiving all that you are entitled to. The benefit system can be a complex one so it may help for you to seek some advice and get a benefit check.

The Citizens Advice Bureau helps people with benefit checks. If you are interested in receiving a benefit check contact the Citizens Advice Bureau

Cardigan: 01239 613707
Aberystwyth: 01970 612817

Are you a parent or carer for a child with disabilities?

Child Disability benefits take up campaign

5) Find help and support

There are carer support groups in the local area that can provide you with information, leisure activities, social contact with other carers and training. Maybe you just want someone to listen to you for an hour. Support workers can provide one to one meetings and telephone support and there are monthly carer support meetings within Ceredigion.

6) Take care of you

It is important to take care of yourself now that you have new caring responsibilities. Caring can be tiring and stressful at times and due to the demanding role of caring, many people experience health problems unless managed. It is important to find some leisure time to enable you to have a break. There are carer training courses available which will teach you new and alternative techniques which will help make your caring role easier.

7) 'Who Cares'DVD

The Caring DVD may be a valuable assistance to people new to caring, it contains a series of useful suggestions for carers on a range of topics that may help with some of the practical issues associated with caring for someone at home. It is particularly targeted at those in the early stages of caring.

Ceredigion County Council through the Social Services Department believes that providing carers with access to some simple information in one clear DVD provides an early intervention to carers to encourage them to remember to take care of their own health and well being as well as the person for whom they care.

The DVD may offer support and information in a non intrusive way if a carer prefers. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of 'Who Cares' please contact Social Services.