Many family members and friends of someone with MS may find that they are taking on some aspect of care.
The Carer's Trust defines a carer as "anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who ... cannot cope without their support". This may include:
- personal care - such as helping someone get washed and dressed in the morning or helping them with their medication
- help with day to day tasks - such as cooking, laundry or making sure bills are paid
- helping someone get around - driving people or helping someone with poor mobility
Being a carer can take up a significant amount of time as well as being physically and mentally demanding. You may not know anyone else who plays a similar supporting role and may not think of yourself as a carer. It can be important to get the right support for yourself as well as assisting the person you care for to access all the support they need.
If you are caring for someone you can ask your local adult care services to assess your needs. If you meet the criteria, social services may be able to help with equipment that makes caring easier, temporary carers to cover whilst you have a short break, and contact with local support groups.
If you are over 16, spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone and earn no more than £110 a week, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance
There are national and local support groups for people who are in a caring role. They provide information and support for people in a whole range of caring situations. Contact with them can help you in your own individual situation.
The Carers Trust provides information, support and practical help to carers through more than 100 independently-managed Carers Centres. This charity was formed in April 2012 from the merger of Crossroads Care and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
Carers UK provides information and advice about caring and practical and emotional support for carers. They also campaign to make life better for carers.
Young people who are caring for a family member with a disability or health condition can face particular impact on their lives, education and mental health. A number of childrens' charities focus on young carers and can offer respite, support and activities for children who take on caring duties in their families.
Other sources of information
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published a new guideline to support adult carers. The guideline aims to improve the lives of carers by helping health and social care practitioners identify people who are caring for someone and give them the right information and support. It covers carer's assessments, practical, emotional and social support and training.
You can read the full NICE guideline on supporting adult carers here.
A section within the NHS Choices website with information on well-being for carers, claiming benefits, advice for young carers and contact details of local authorities
A collection of videos on the Health Talk website in which family members and friends of people with MS talk about their experiences and the effect the condition has on their lives
Information on a variety of topics provided by Care Information Scotland
The free and impartial advice service on managing your money and other financial issues includes information on support for carers.
An annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, to recognise the contribution made by carers and to highlight challenges that carers can face.