Who is a carer?

Carers play a vital role in our community and they have been at the forefront of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many people who have someone who depends on them for support don’t consider themselves a carer yet they are fundamental to the effort to keep people safe throughout this crisis.

You are a carer if you give up your time without pay, to look after someone who couldn’t cope without your support. You could be looking after a family member, a partner, a friend, a neighbour who is ill, frail, has a disability or issues with drugs or alcohol. You may support the person you care for with things such as cooking, cleaning, helping to get dressed or emotional support, etc. You may live in the same home as the person you provide care for or you may live in a different home.

Who is a young carer?

You are a young carer if you are a child or young adult under 18 who spends time looking after or helping a member of your family, or close friend. The support you provide could be helping with everyday tasks that your family member or close friend can no longer manage because of illness or disability.  Also, you may be providing regular and ongoing care and emotional support to your family member or close friend who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or has issues with drugs or alcohol.

On these pages you will find information about caring for someone during COVID-19 and the support available to you.

For more information about Adult Social Care in Camden, including your right to have your needs considered through a carers assessment or young carers needs assessment, visit camdencarechoices.camden.gov.uk/support-and-advice-for-carers

Caring for someone during COVID-19

Camden and Islington Public Health have developed guidance to support unpaid carers during this time. It includes: guidance for unpaid carers living with the person they care for, as well as those who live in a different house to the person they provide care for; information on shielding; the types of PPE required; testing and creating an emergency plan. Download a copy of the guidance

General steps you can take to protect yourself and the person you care for include the following:

  • only provide care that is essential
  • do not provide care if you are unwell
  • wash your hands regularly, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitiser
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Put any used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • it is recommended that you follow general social distances measures when you are out of the home environment
  • it is also recommended that you create an emergency plan with the person you care for just in case you get sick (see contingency plan section below)
  • plan ahead to ensure you and the person you care for can access all the supplies they need if you or they become unwell. The section on Practical information for staying at home has lots of useful information about getting food and other essential supplies, and accessing money, and practical support
  • if this is possible, the person you care for should know who they can contact if they feel unwell
  • look after your own wellbeing and physical health.

These are only broad steps.  For detailed information, including information on caring for someone who is shielding, please refer to the Camden & Islington Public Health guidance.

For information about PPE, visit the PPE section on Camden Care Choices. If you live in the same house as the person you provide care for you will not need PPE.

If you or the person you care for has underlying health care problems which become worse during or after the isolation period you should seek medical advice by either phoning your GP, phoning NHS 111, or visiting 111.nhs.uk/covid-19/.

Contingency planning

As a carer of someone who relies on you for vital help, you are advised to make a contingency plan so that if an emergency happens, care can still continue at a time when it is needed.

Carers UK provide practical support on planning for emergencies.

A carer, Suzanne Bourne, has published her own advice on setting up a simple carer emergency plan - Suzanne Bourne – setting up a simple carer emergency plan.

Support for carers

Being a carer can be hugely rewarding - it can strengthen our relationships, hold families together, and teach us all sorts of unique skills. We know that it can also be a challenging and lonely experience, and the coronavirus pandemic may be a particularly worrying time for carers and the people they care for.

If you’re a carer in Camden, remember you’re not on your own and there are lots of places you can go for support.

  • Camden Carers Service are able to provide services, including information and other support, on the telephone and email as well as Support & Wellbeing checks for vulnerable carers. You can contact the Camden Carers Service on 020 7428 8950 and info@camdencarers.org.uk.
  • Mobilise offer a range of support including carers groups coming together for an online 'cuppa' and informal chat. Cuppas provide a chance to share concerns, practical tips and community support. Joining is completely free, and easily accessible with basic technology. Online cuppas are at 4pm. You can sign up at mobiliseonline.co.uk/cuppa.
  • Recommendme has a list of voluntary organisations and groups that are providing social activities to support carers in Camden.  Visit their website at recommendme.london.
  • Carers UK have published guidance for carers worried about their situation. This includes advice on creating a contingency plan (similar to an emergency plan) and tailored guidance on coming out of hospital. If either of you become ill, please follow Public Health England advice as provided in the government guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family.
  • Centre 404 provide advice and support for carers of adults with learning disabilities or autism. During coronavirus, Centre 404 are able to offer telephone/video calls support to families. Further information about caring for an adult with a learning disability or autism can be found in the ‘resources and support around disability section’ on Camden Care Choices.
  • Family Action Islington and Camden Young Carers Service can provide support for young carers by:
    • offering information and advice
    • working with the whole family to look at ways of supporting the young carer and the person who needs care
    • carrying out home visits and an assessment using the common assessment framework (CAF)
    • provide help with any problems at school.
  • Call Adult Social Care on 020 7974 4000 (option 1) or email adultsocialcare@camden.gov.uk