Carers Rights Day is organised by Carers UK. It is a chance for hundreds of organisations to come together and help carers find what support is available to them in their local area. It also helps to raise awareness of the needs of carers and the daily challenges that they face.

What is a carer?

Every day, almost 6000 people become carers. Sometimes it’s planned but sometimes it’s unexpected. Saying exactly what a carer is can be an impossible task. Caring can mean different things to different people. For example, a carer can be a neighbour who checks in on their elderly neighbour in the mornings. Or, a carer can be a parent looking after a child who is unwell. Or, they could be a partner or friend supporting someone with cancer.

No matter the type of caring, it is important that people understand their rights and the support available to them. Carers rights includes many different things, from working while caring and rights at work, to what financial support and benefits you might be entitled to. Being a carer can be physically and emotionally demanding experience, so it is very important that you get the practical, financial and emotional support you need.

Supporting a carer

As well as getting involved with Carers Rights Day 2018, we can all do can do things to support someone who is caring for a person with cancer. Carers can face daily challenges, but a little compassion and understanding from friends and family can really make all the difference.

Sometimes, you might worry about saying the wrong thing or upsetting someone. We’ve put together a few suggestions of things to avoid saying to someone who is caring for a person with cancer:

  • ‘You are so strong.’ This can sometimes make carers feel that they need to be brave all the time. Instead tell them that you understand that they will have good and bad days, but that you are there to support them. Knowing that there is someone else there can make the bad days a little easier.
  • ‘My uncle had cancer.’ Everyone experiences cancer differently, so it is best to avoid talking about what happened to someone else. Instead encourage them to talk about what is happening with them. Really listen to what they have to say.
  • ‘You need to think positively.’ When caring for someone with cancer, it can be hard to stay positive. Listen and accept what they are telling you, even if it isn’t positive. Try to focus on the needs of the carer who is talking to you.
  • ‘If you need anything, just give me a call.’ This is a kind offer to make, but it is important to be specific. You could offer to collect children from school or help with travel to hospital appointments. Making specific suggestions will make it easier for your friend to be able work out what you can do to help. We have more information about offering practical support.
  • ‘It’s great it’s all over.’ Even if treatment is over, caring for someone can leave a lasting emotional and physical impact. Let them know that you will continue to be there for them.

It is important to remember to treat every carer as an individual. No one will have the same experience or feelings, so just be there to listen to them and offer support.

By getting involved with Carers Rights Day, you can help to get information and advice to carers. Whether you host an event or simply share information with people in your community, you really can make a difference to the lives of carers in the UK. 

We have free booklets and audiobooks for people looking after someone with cancer, and information on working while caring.

Carers UK has a helpline on 0808 808 77 77, Monday to Tuesday, from 10am to 4pm. 

The Macmillan support line is also available on 0808 808 00 00, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm. 

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