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Advise me about..... Caring

Taking on a learning opportunity as a carer can be a valuable experience. It can help to boost your self esteem, improve your confidence and provide an opportunity to focus on your own interests. It can also be an important tool if you want to develop your career or return to work. However, it is important that you get the right support so you can find the time, the energy (and sometimes the money) to make the most of the opportunities open to you.

Hours of study

When thinking about different types of learning you will need to look at the number of hours you will be expected to study to complete the programme and if you are learning face to face then it is important to check the likely timetable of attendance and think about how that fits into your daily routine.

Learning from home

You may wish to consider distance learning, where you can study from home or work. This way of learning may include online courses or using written materials or DVDs that are provided for you or a mix of the two. As part of distance learning you usually talk to tutors online or sometimes there is occasional telephone or face to face contact with tutors and other learners. This way of learning means you can study at a time and place that suits you so is often more flexible if you have caring commitments. You may however prefer to take a course that involves attendance at a local education provider as it is an opportunity to meet new people and have time away from your day to day environment. Fortunately there is lots of choice available, it is just about finding what works best for you.

Financial support

Before you start learning you will probably want to check out whether you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to as a carer. There may be someone you already trust to provide this advice or you may want to speak to someone independent, for example Citizens Advice Bureau or individual charities may offer help.

If you are considering a further or adult education course then some institutions have funding to support students in financial difficulty, this may be called Discretionary Learner Support and it is money you do not need to pay back. Your education provider can advise if you are eligible for this kind of support.

If you are considering a higher education course then some institutions have additional funding to support learners in financial difficulty, these may be called grants or bursaries. Again, your education provider can advise if you are eligible for this kind of support.

If you are caring for an adult dependent and are thinking about full time higher education then you may be eligible for an Adult Dependent's Grant (which is money you don't have to pay back). Adult Dependent's Grants are only applicable in England. The amount you could get is based upon your income and that of any dependent's and other personal circumstances (such as whether you have children). If you are awarded a grant then it could have an impact on other benefits so it is important you consider this.

Taking care of yourself

Taking care of yourself when looking after someone else is important. If you are thinking about starting a course you may find it helpful to talk to someone about the impact this may have on you and on the person or people you care for. Finding an organisation that provides emotional support may be helpful. You may well be in contact with advice organisations but if not now is a good time to find out what's on offer. Carers UK advice line can offer practical advice or just a listening ear. You can call them on 0808 808 7777.

Useful links

Find out about a free 15 hour online course ‘Caring for Adults’ provided by the Social Partnerships Network

Caring for Adults

Useful information on carers assessments, respite care and financial support for carers.
Carers' assessments on NHS website

A great starting point for any carer wanting general support and advice. Has detailed advice on financial support and a number of guides you can download.
Carers UK website

For information about Discretionary Learner Support funds available in further and adult education:
Discretionary Learner support on Gov.uk

Financial help for carers considering higher education courses.
Extra money for uni on Gov.uk website
Adult Dependants' Grant on Gov.uk website

Useful Links

‘Caring for Adults’ provided by the Social Partnerships Network

Caring for Adults

Useful information on carers assessments, respite care and financial support for carers.

NHS website

A great starting point for any carer wanting general support and advice. Has detailed advice on financial support and a number of guides you can download.

Carers UK website

Information about Discretionary Learner Support funds available in further and adult education

Learner support
on Gov.uk

Financial help for carers considering higher education courses.

Extra money
on Gov.uk
Adult Dependants'
Grant on Gov.uk