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Life after caring

Whether you have been a carer for just a few weeks, or for many years, changes to your role as a carer can have a huge and lasting effect on your life.

Your caring role may have come to an end for a number of reasons including:

  • the person you care for has recovered and become independent again
  • the person you care for has moved into residential or nursing care
  • you may have made a decision that you are no longer able to continue caring
  • you may be leaving home, going to college or starting work
  • you may require care yourself
  • bereavement

Friends and family can often help you through the changes, but you may feel that you would also benefit from the advice, help and support of others. The end of an active caring role can impact on carers' lives, practically, emotionally and financially.

Managing money and financial issues

Your change of circumstances could affect the amount of money, including benefits, that you are entitled to, and you may need to notify various organisations or government departments about the changes to your circumstances. It is important to do this as soon as possible.

If the change in your circumstances is due to a bereavement, you can use the Tell Us Once service. The service will contact various government services to enable them to:

  • work out final payments of benefits for the person who has died (including the state pension and tax credits)
  • make arrangements for income tax, National Insurance and council tax
  • cancel the passport and/or driving licence of the person who has died
  • make arrangements about council housing and Blue Badge schemes
  • make sure the person's name is removed from the electoral register

If your caring role has ended due to other circumstances you will need to contact services yourself to inform them of the changes. If you're unsure which organisations you need to tell and what you need to tell them, contact your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or Durham County Carers Support for help.

Emotional support and coping with your feelings

Adjusting to the end of your caring role is not easy and you may find that you experience a range of emotions. There is no 'right' or 'normal' way to feel, but the following are all common feelings reported by carers:

  • guilt
  • loss, grief or sadness
  • relief at getting your life back
  • anger, resentment or unfairness
  • emptiness or loneliness, loss of confidence

Whatever the situation, it is important to remember that you are not alone. It may take time and can be very difficult, but you can find emotional support and assistance to help you think about what to do next.

Organisations who could help you think about your future:

  • The Carers Trust give information, advice, discussion and support to carers.
  • Carers UK: forum can be a source of help and support.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care provide telephone and email support for people who have been bereaved.
  • Compassionate Friends support for bereaved parents and their families by those similarly bereaved.
  • Samaritans provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.

Returning to work

Many carers find that when their caring role ends they have trouble regaining a sense of purpose and if your caring responsibilities prevented you from working you may want to start to work, or return to work.

Many people who have been out of work for a period of time feel that theirs skills are out of date, they have lost confidence or think that a gap in work on their CV will leave them at a disadvantage.

However, as a former carer, you are likely to have developed new transferrable skills that will fit with the needs of potential employers who will find your caring role a positive feature on your job application.

National Careers Service is a free, confidential service providing information, impartial advice and guidance to help you make decisions on career and learning/training opportunities. The service's qualified advisors can offer advice on learning and work issues, help you explore which careers would suit you best, provide tips on searching for a job and assist you to improve your interview skills, helping you take control of your learning and work life.

Telephone calls are free, or you have a live web chat on their website. Lines are open 8.00am to 10.00pm, 7 days a week

Learndirect offer training courses at locations nationwide. Courses are broken down into bitesize chunks, so you can learn at your own pace.

Durham County Council offers a range of adult learning courses to help you brush up on your basic skills or become qualified in a completely new area of work. Some courses are free for everyone and some are free depending on your circumstances.