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Ask the expert: How do I juggle all of my roles when things are getting worse?

This month Jen from the Carers UK adviceline gives advice on how to seek help when the juggling of roles all becomes too much. Taking on caring whether you're in employment, have a family of your own to care for, or even just a life you're used to can be daunting.

You asked:

How do I juggle all of my roles when things are getting worse?

I have been caring for my Dad since he had a stroke four years ago. I work full time and am also a lone parent with a young daughter. We have muddled along for a while, but things are now getting worse, and I’m struggling. I’m worried I might have to leave my job or reduce my hours.

Our advisor says:

It sounds like you’ve got a lot going on, and it’s no surprise that you’re struggling to juggle all these roles.

It may seem impossible to carry on working full time with these extra responsibilities, however before you make any decisions it’s important to consider the implications and explore your options.

Your financial situationAdviceline

It’s important to consider the impact leaving work or reducing hours will have on your current financial situation and your future pension entitlement.
If you left work you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance and Income Support. As you have a young daughter you may be able to claim Child Tax Credit. If you are liable for any housing costs you may also be able to claim help for these.

If you reduced your hours you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance, as long as your earnings are not over the limit (currently £110 a week after deductions). If you are working at least 16 hours a week then as you are a lone parent you may be able to claim Working Tax Credit as well as Child Tax Credit. If you are liable for any housing costs you may also be able to claim help for these.

However, eligibility for benefits and tax credits would depend on your circumstances, so it would be a good idea to get a benefit check to see what your financial situation would be in either case.

Note: In some parts of the country Universal Credit has replaced certain benefits and tax credits. We have more information on benefits.

If you would no longer be paying, or treated as paying, National Insurance (NI) through work, then you should consider the impact this will have on your NI record, as this will impact your future pension entitlement. Some benefits (such as Carer’s Allowance) or credits (such as Carer’s Credit) can give NI contribution credits, which can help to protect your record. For more info see our pensions section

Your rights in work

It may be possible to use your rights in work to change your working pattern to one which is more suitable. Any employee who has worked for their employer for at least six months can make a flexible working request, which could include: home working, part-time working, term-time working, working compressed hours, flexi-time, shift working or job sharing.

It may also be that you have additional contractual rights which could help, such as carers leave. It is therefore worth checking the HR policies at your work to see if there is any extra support available. We have more information on your rights in work.

Getting support for you and your Dad

It may be that getting support for you and your Dad may enable you to stay in work.

You could get a carer’s assessment from your Dad’s council. This would look at things like whether your caring role impacts your childcare responsibilities and your work. If the council think you are eligible for support, they must provide this support. This could include things like help with housework or help to enable you to take a break (so you can spend time with your daughter).

If support is offered then the council might carry out a financial assessment, however not all councils charge for carers’ support.

Your dad could get a needs assessment from his council, which would look at his care and support needs. If you are already meeting your Dad’s needs, and are happy to carry on doing so, then the council don’t have to meet these particular needs.

It is therefore really important to be honest about the level of care you are willing and able to provide. If any of your Dad’s needs are not being met by you, then the council must provide support. This could include things like a care worker, replacement care or equipment and technology. If support is offered then the council will carry out a financial assessment.

If your Dad would have to pay the full cost of any support from the council, then you could instead look to arrange support privately. You can search for local care providers on the Care Quality Commission website and on the Which? Elderly Care directory.

Note: The above information on getting support for you and your Dad is correct for England. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland visit our nations' pages on practical support

I hope this helps. Remember you can talk this through by contacting the Carers UK Adviceline on 0808 808 7777 (Mon-Fri, 10am – 4pm) or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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