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Practical support for carers

If you’re living with someone with blood cancer and supporting them in any way, you might be a carer, even if you don’t see yourself as one.

What you need to know

  • You may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance or other benefits.
  • The law protects you and you have rights at work.
  • Your loved one has rights at work as well - see our money and work page for up-to-date information.

Call our Support Services Team on 0808 2080 888 or email [email protected] to talk through what financial support you may be entitled to, or get advice on how to talk to your employer or colleagues about your role as a carer.

Be aware that your friend or family member with blood cancer is likely to be at high risk from coronavirus, so you may find our coronavirus information hub useful. This includes information on covid vaccinations and treatments.

Am I a carer?

A carer is someone who does some or all of these things without payment:

  • helps someone to wash, get dressed or feed themselves
  • takes them to appointments
  • does their shopping
  • keeps them company
  • provides emotional support

There’s no rule about how much time you spend caring for someone, it could be anything from a few hours a day to full time. You may or may not live with the person you care for.

People have mixed feelings about the term “carer”. Many people don’t see themselves as carers, and according to the NHS, it can take two years after a loved one’s diagnosis for people think of themselves in that way. That’s understandable, as your relationship is first and foremost a partner, a sibling, a parent, a child and so on. But you do have rights as a carer, and that might include financial support.

Carer’s Allowance

As a carer, you could be entitled to Carer’s Allowance.

You could get Carers Allowance if you’re on a low income, you look after someone for 35 hours a week or more and they get certain benefits – such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or Attendance Allowance. You don’t have to be related to the person you’re caring for. You don’t even have to live with them. Providing emotional support can also count towards the 35 hours of caring.

Getting Carer’s Allowance can help you qualify for other help and prove you are a carer.

Other benefits you may be able to apply for include:

  • Carer’s Credit, which helps you with gaps in your national insurance payments (the state pension is based on these).
  • Carer Premium, which can top up other benefits you’re on such as income support and housing benefit – ask at your local Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office.

You can also ask your local council for a carer’s assessment, to see if you need help with things like taking breaks from caring, paying taxi fares if you don’t drive, joining a gym, or getting help around the house.

Carers UK and Citizens Advice have more information on practical help you may be able to apply for. You can also use this benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might be entitled to.

Your rights at work

As a carer for someone with blood cancer, you have rights at work which are protected in law. These include:

  • the right to request flexible working, if you’ve worked there for at least 6 months
  • the right to take time off in an emergency
  • protection from discrimination at work.

These are just the minimum legal rights. You may have additional rights written into your employment contract, such as the right to take paid or unpaid carer’s leave. Check with your HR team or look at your contract or staff handbook to see what your employer offers to someone in your situation.

Carers UK has more information and advice about juggling work and caring. If you think you are being unfairly treated at work, you can contact ACAS for advice.

Can anyone else help?

You don’t need to do everything on your own. Have a think about tasks you could delegate and make sure you’re getting all the help you’re entitled to from social services.

See what other support is available in your area. You can look for carers’ services near you on the Carers Trust website.

Emotional support for carers

You may also find yourself more in need of emotional support in these difficult times, which is completely understandable. Our Support Service is here for you, when you need us. Call us free on 0808 2080 888 or email [email protected]

We have more information on the emotional effects of caring for someone with blood cancer.

Rob, who has CML, makes a smoothie with a young family, placing fruit into a blender.

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