Support and advice for carers
What makes you a carer?
A carer is anyone who provides unpaid care for a family member or friend who, due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction, can't cope without their support.
People who provide unpaid care and support to others view themselves as doing what anyone else would do for a loved one, rather than seeing themselves as carers. Although there are many positive and rewarding aspects to caring, there are lots of reasons why the experience can also leave the carer needing support.
If you're a carer
If you're one of these carers, there's considerable advice and support available to you. You can get help to look after your own health and wellbeing so you have time to enjoy social activities, work or educational opportunities alongside your caring role.
It’s important to think about how the care and support you provide affects your wellbeing and what could make things better for you and the person you look after.
Local help and support
Carers in Bedfordshire (link opens in new window) is a registered charity which works with us to help carers. They offer assistance such as practical help, advice, support groups, befriending services, benefits advice, training, advocacy, support and information.
Carers Cafes (link opens in new window) hold monthly drop-in sessions in community venues where you can meet new people and socialise with other carers. The cafes are situated in Bedford, Biggleswade, Eaton Bray, Flitwick, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard. Visit the Carers Cafes website (link opens in new window) for venues, dates and times.
Carers' Lounges (link opens in new window) - Carers in Bedfordshire has two Carers' Lounges based in Bedford Hospital, on the ground floor in the South Wing and at Luton and Dunstable Hospital in St Mary’s Wing. They offer advice, support and information to visiting carers of all ages. No appointment or referral is needed.
Advice Central (link opens in new window) provides free and confidential advice in Central Bedfordshire for a range of topics, including disability, health and care and education. You can view the Advice Central introductory videomon YouTube (link opens in new window). The Advice Central Team is based in Dunstable and trained to help you quickly get the help and advice you need – the service is provided by the Disability Resource Centre, Citizens Advice and Bedfordshire Age UK. To access free advice and information you can either call 0300 303 6666 or make an online enquiry (link opens in new window).
Mencap (link opens in new window) is the leading voice of learning disability. Everything Mencap does is about valuing and supporting people with a learning disability, and their families and carers.
Scope (link opens in new window) provides information and support whether you, your child or those you work with have a physical impairment, learning disability or any other condition. The website contains a range of useful information including a forum for parents/carers of disabled children (link opens in new window), which provides advice about caring for disabled children, providing help and reassurance.
Village Care and Good Neighbour Schemes
Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) (link opens in new window) runs Good Neighbour and Village Care Schemes (link opens in new window) that provide easy access to help and support, acting as a safety net for everyone in a town or village, regardless of age. They can help to lessen the impact on a community caused by the decline in services and facilities such as public transport, shops, Post Offices, doctors' surgeries and pubs. They can also help to reduce feelings of isolation and exclusion experienced by some individuals if families and friends move away in the search for employment, education or affordable housing.
Having access to the services of a care scheme can extend the length of time people are able to remain living independently in their own home.
Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity also provides Village Agents (link opens in new window) who can provide face to face information and support to enable individuals to make informed choices about their future needs.
Support for carers of someone with dementia
For more information on dementia, visit our dementia page.
The Alzheimer’s Society (link opens in new window) offers lots of useful advice on their website as well as courses on understanding dementia, a befriending service to reduce isolation, support groups and CRiP (Carer’s information and support programme).
Carers Trust (link opens in new window) can help you to maintain your own health and wellbeing, make your needs and voice heard and provide someone to talk to. They also run play and support schemes for young carers.
Carers UK (link opens in new window) provides expert telephone advice and support services, champions your rights and helps you find new ways to manage.
Care for carers (link opens in new window) provides information about benefits, health trainer services, anti-bullying websites and adult education.
Carers Direct Helpline (link opens in new window) - you can call the Carers Direct helpline if you need help with your caring role and want to talk to someone about what options are available to you.
NHS Choices guide to care and support (link opens in new window) has a guide for carers about the carers assessment and what care and support services you might get.