It’s important to define exactly what you’re responsible for and what you’re not when you’re caring for a relative. First, make sure you tell their doctor that you’re now their carer. Talk to them about the type of role that you feel is reasonable and manageable. Ask for their help dealing with health and social services, and with making any benefit applications.
Do you need to get authority to deal with your relative’s financial and other affairs? You could apply to get ‘Power of Attorney’ – this is a document that appoints an ‘attorney’ to act for another person who is unable to look after their own affairs. You’ll need to arrange this while your relative is still able to grant this.
If they’re unable to make you an ‘attorney’, you can ask to be named an ‘appointee’ instead. This allows you to manage the benefits of the person you care for. But if you need to manage their wider financial and personal affairs, you can apply to the Court of Protection to be made a ‘deputy’. The court will supervise your actions to make sure you act in your relative’s best interests. It’s a good idea to talk about making a will too or preparing a will on their behalf too, if they don’t already have one.
Where to get support
If the person you’re caring for needs a lot of home-based help, make sure you research what assistance is available. You might find that it takes a while to arrange help through your local authority, so make sure you’re prepared for this. If you spend a large amount of your time caring for your relative, you’re entitled to a Carer’s Assessment. You’ll then be told about what help you’re eligible for. This could either be directly provided by the council or money to buy the services or equipment you need.
Many charities offer a wide range of free or subsidised support, including benefits advice, help at home, training sessions, respite care and more. You might also be eligible for carer benefits, including a Carer’s Allowance. If you’re unable to continued paid work because of your carer responsibilities, arrange for a benefits check with a qualified adviser. CarersUK and the Citizens Advice Bureau can help. The person you’re caring for may be able to claim a Disability Living Allowance.