Getting help and support
Caring for someone with MS can take its toll both physically and emotionally. Help is out there.
There are organisations that can put you in touch with other people in the same situation, give practical help or simply listen. This page has information about the support you can get nationally and in your local area.
Some services and opportunities are different in Scotland and Wales.
Find out more
If you look after someone in the family or friend with MS, the law says you have a right to ask your council's social services department for a carers' assessment. The assessment should look at:
- How you feel about your caring role and whether you're coping
- What help you need to carry on caring - if that's what you want to do
- What you need to protect your health and wellbeing
- What you want to get from life in terms of work, training and your social life
- Emergency planning
The assessment is your chance to tell your council what could make caring easier for you. They could offer you respite care (a break from caring) or other support. An assessment of the person you care for could also identify ways to support you. You can ask for a carers' assessment whether the person you care for has an assessment or not. Usually it's best to make sure the two of you are assessed so social services can get the whole picture. You can be assessed together if you both agree.
After your assessment your council will draw up a support plan with you. This has details of help they should give you. It should also cover how to support you if your situation gets more of a challenge. If it does, let your council know. They can give you a new assessment. Contact your council's social services department to ask for a carers' assessment, and read about what assessments involve and how to prepare for them.
Local Care Centres
There is a UK-wide network of local Carers Centres and services that offer support and information for families and carers.
Each centre delivers a wide range of local support services to meet the needs of carers in its community. These range from support services for you as a carer, or for the needs of the person you care for. They can also inform you of the services that your local authority may provide.
Carers Centres can assist you in getting information regarding health issues, entitlements, mobility, grants for short breaks and holidays, equipment and emotional support.
Other local organisations
There are local organisations, services and groups all over the UK that support carers in their area. Your local social services department and carers centre will have details of what services are available near you.
Alternatively, use the NHS carers' direct service.
National carers organisations
A national charity providing information and support for carers, via their adviceline (0808 808 7777), online forums and publications. See Carers UK Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for nation-specific information for carers.
A national charity formed by the merger of Crossroads Care and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Carers Centres and local Crossroads Care schemes are Network Partners of Carers Trust. Crossroads Care schemes provide flexible breaks for carers at home. Together with carers centres, they ensure that information, advice and practical support are available to all carers across the UK. (Note: Crossroads Caring Scotland and Crossroads Caring for Carers in Northern Ireland did not merge and still operate as separate organisations).
They also have information for young carers.
NHS Carers Direct
Information, support and advice on all aspects of caring and looking after yourself from the NHS.
Getting help in an emergency
Joining a 'carers emergency card' scheme might help relieve some of the worry in the event of an emergency. On registering with a scheme, you will think about and draw up an emergency care plan, with help from a skilled worker. If trouble strikes, the scheme would use your plan to make arrangements for replacement care for the person you care for. Carers emergency cards aren't available everywhere, so check with your local authority or Carers Centre to see if there is one operating in your area.
Online help to make things easier
If you're new to caring, or even if you've been a carer for years, here are a few online resources that might help to make things easier:
- Jointly - a website and mobile phone app provided by Carers UK, developed by carers, for carers. Share and organise care and support among family and friends.
- Carewell - encouraging carers to make one or two small changes to help them care and cope better. Provided by BUPA in partnership with Carers UK.
Help from the MS Society
Read our booklets:
There are many other publications that give more detailed information about MS and specific aspects of living with the condition, and also about the help that is available from external organisations.
Order copies of the above publications and many others from the online shop, or contact the Information team on 020 8438 0799.
We can provide grants for things like short breaks, holidays and respite care, regular activities, personal development including training. See our page on financial support for carers for more information about how we can help.
Offering a free and confidential listening ear, the MS Helpline is available for carers and families and anyone affected by MS. Call the Helpline on 0808 800 8000 or email [email protected].
Learning events for carers happen around the UK to help family members and friends better understand MS and increase confidence in their ability to care. For more information contact your local MS Society branch.