Caring for a family member

Becoming a full-time carer for a family member: Essential info

6 min read

There may come a time when becoming a full-time carer for a family member is necessary.

This could be due to the cost of care or supporting your loved one to get the care they need.

Whatever your situation, becoming a full-time carer is significant, and you may need guidance along the way.

This article will cover everything you need to know about becoming a full-time carer for a family member.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Becoming a full-time carer for a family member means you care for a loved one for more than 35 hours a week.
  • Getting a care needs assessment is a good first step to establish care needs and what you need to provide. 
  • If you’re worried about finances, you can apply for a carer’s allowance to give you an extra £76.75 a week. 
  • While you provide daily care support, there might be times when professional or medical help is required.
Who is classed as a full time carer

Who is classed as a full time carer?

Full-time carers are those who care for someone for 35 hours or more a week, providing essential support. 

This could be for an elderly relative with dementia or another condition that:

  • Reduces their mobility
  • Causes cognitive decline
  • Impacts their ability to do daily tasks 
  • Increases social isolation
  • Causes increasing medical needs
What hours do full-time carers work

What hours do full-time carers work?

Unlike a regular 9-5 job, being a full-time carer can mean working at different hours throughout the day and night. 

This all depends on the physical and emotional needs of your loved one, and this can vary with different conditions. 

For example, someone with dementia experiencing dementia sundowning may experience restless periods during the night, where your help is required. 

But it’s possible that there will be periods during the day when you’re not needed and can have a break.

Are you worried about a loved one?

Early signs of dementia free guide

How to cope with full-time care hours?

Becoming a full-time carer for a family member can be extremely challenging at times. 

Whether you find yourself working long or disruptive hours or dealing with difficult and upsetting situations with your loved one. 

It’s important that you create a routine for you and your loved one to follow that gives structure to the day.

Plus, don’t ignore your own feelings and needs – reach out for help if you need it. 


What do full-time carers for a family member do?

Full-time family carers may find themselves with a lot of different responsibilities that arise gradually or all at once. 

As a full-time carer your tasks are likely to support health and wellbeing in a way that preserves dignity and independence.

This can include personal care, medication and mobility support, attending appointments or community activities and preventing loneliness. 

Let’s look at what might be involved in these categories.

Dementia care for your loved one

Personal care

Personal care is helping your loved one with any personal grooming and hygiene activities. 

For example, helping them use the toilet which includes continence management and catheter/stoma care. 

Washing themselves in the bath, shower or bed baths, plus applying creams when needed. 

Skincare and shaving where needed and other essential activities such as overseeing taking medication.

Home care in surrey

Mobility support

Your loved one may have mobility issues from arthritis, a disability, an injury (including from a fall) or increasingly frailty. 

It’s important to be aware of their needs as they can change day to day and adapt your care accordingly. 

For example, recognising when a movement is uncomfortable or when mobility aids can be used. 

Find advice about how to prevent falls in elderly loved ones in our guide. 

Appointments and events

As a carer, you may be your loved one’s only way of accessing the world outside their home. 

Especially if they have cognitive or mobility issues that prevent them from leaving the house safely. 

Or even if they don’t have access to a transport system such as taxis or a bus network.  

This means that you may become responsible for accompanying them to different important appointments as well as community events.

What shouldn’t full-time family carers do

What shouldn’t full-time family carers do?

Unlike professional carers working for an agency, family caregivers are not required to follow many rules regarding conduct on the job. 

However, there are elements of the job that require structure if becoming a full-time carer for a family member is to work. 

Let’s explore some of the things you shouldn’t do when becoming a full-time carer for a family member. 

Treat your loved one badly

Becoming an unpaid carer out of necessity can be a difficult transition and you’re guaranteed to experience a lot of learning curves. 

There will be times when emotions run high and arguments happen, and you’re bound to make some mistakes.

But you must maintain the highest level of care for your loved one, not treating them badly or neglecting their needs.

looking after elderly parents

Ignore your loved ones wishes

If your loved one has been able to plan for later life they may have expressed wishes about their preferred care. 

This could be done through conversations with family or an advance statement as well as things they express day to day. 

Following their wishes allows for a positive, person-centred care approach which ensures all their care needs are met.

caring for elderly parents full time

Perform regulated activities

Becoming a full-time carer for a family member is momentous, but it doesn’t mean that you can do it all. 

There are a number of care elements that are restricted to professional carers who have nursing qualifications. 

For example, nursing care tasks such as giving injections, PEG feeding or anything of a medical nature. 

You must not try to perform these activities, as it could harm your loved one.

Are you worried about a loved one?

Early signs of dementia free guide

Assume it will be easy

While becoming a full-time carer for a family member can be rewarding, it’s important to recognise its challenging nature.

You may find yourself feeling frazzled, experiencing burnout or compassion fatigue which can limit your ability to provide care. 

If your caring responsibilities become too much, there are lots of options for getting help from other types of home care visits.  

Want to know about taking a break – find out more in our guide to what is respite care?

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What support is available for full time carers?

Becoming a full-time carer for a family member can be a challenging time. 

Not only are you getting to grips with your loved one’s health, you have a new role and responsibilities to fulfil. 

Perhaps you have left a job to support your loved one and are worried about struggling to make ends meet.

Adjusting to this new normal is going to take some time, but you should know that there is lots of support available.

support for full time carers

Emotional support

While you have important responsibilities caring for your loved one, it’s important that you don’t forget to care for yourself.

Neglecting your own self care can have damaging effects on carer mental health and leave you unable to provide care.

It’s better to recognise the signs of burnout and be honest when something isn’t working before you reach crisis point. 

Carers UK have a helpline for carers who need practical and emotional support – so don’t hesitate to contact them here.

family full time carers

Community support

There are lots of community resources for carers that can help steer you in the right direction. 

Whether you want some guidance on financial matters and helping your loved one plan for later life. 

Or to find out things like what is a day centre or the best dementia puzzles to play. 

Financial support

If you care for someone for 35+ hours a week who also receives certain benefits, you could get a carer’s allowance

This benefit for carers gives £76.75 as weekly income that can help you pay for daily and living costs. 

You may also be able to get it if your take home income is less than £139 a week.

find care for your parents

Find respite care your your loved one

If you care for a loved one full-time, you may need to organise respite care so you can have a break. 

Enter your loved one’s care needs into the Sweet Pea platform and get matched with respite care services.

Get the break you need knowing your loved one is in safe hands. 

Just click below.