When your caring role changes or ends
Looking after someone may be a large part of your life, but at some point your caring role may change. This may be because the person you cared for has recovered and no longer needs care, they have moved into residential care or because they have died.
It may take some time to adjust to the end of your caring role. Having more time to yourself may give you the opportunity for a much needed rest, but it can also leave you with a lot of time to fill.
When caring ends, some practical matters will have to be dealt with fairly quickly, for example, benefits and housing, but you don't need to rush into making decisions about what you do next straight away.
Life after caring
You may want to take some time to yourself before thinking about what you want to do next. Keeping in touch with friends, family and your local community may have been difficult when you did not have much time for yourself.
You may feel isolated after many years of caring and you may feel less confident. You could start by finding out what help or services your local carers support group offers to people whose caring role has come to an end.
Carers Moving Forward offer support to people who are no longer in their caring role.
If you have time to spare, you could consider volunteering. As well as offering much needed help to local people or organisations, volunteering can be a very social activity, and can be a good way to meet new people. Volunteering opportunities can range from befriending older or disabled people, offering your skills (for example, administration, fundraising, legal advice etc.) to a local charity, to helping out on a local conservation project.
Volunteering opportunities in your area
Carers UK have voluntary opportunities for former carers. You could use your caring experience by raising awareness in the local community, signposting carers to help or providing listening support on the telephone.
Learn something new
Taking a course can help you refresh skills that you have not used for a while, or learn something completely new. You might have gained new skills or interests from your caring role that you also want to pursue. It can also be a great way to meet new people.
Returning to work
If caring for someone meant you had to give up a job, returning to work may be something that interests you. If you're not sure what you want to do, think about the knowledge and skills you already have, and how you could use them. Include past paid work, voluntary work, hobbies and interests, and the skills you have gained as a carer or parent. Think about what you like doing, how you would like to use your skills, and anything that you used to do and have missed.
Gov UK has information on help with finding a job including skills and training.
A carers assessment could still be carried out even if the person you look after moves into a residential care home.
Some carers may find that they spend a lot of time visiting the home and maybe helping with personal tasks such as feeding and bathing, or offering company.
The care staff looking after the person you care for should still consider your views and feelings before decisions are made. It's a good idea to discuss with staff how you will be involved, and what you can expect from them, as soon as you can.
If the person you look after is able to make decisions for themselves they can still make choices about their care and support.
If the person you look after can't make their own decisions, or may not be able to in the future, you may need to help them to make those decisions or you may have to take action or make decisions on their behalf.
We have information on mental capacity which explains options available.
If you have not already done so, you and the person you care for may also want to think about making a will.
The Relatives and Residents Association can support you by giving you the information you need to make confident and informed choices. They have information about selecting a care home, paying for care, adjusting to being in care, or complaining about the quality of care.
Caring for someone can become a major part of your life. When that person dies, as well as being a huge loss to you personally, it can leave a space in your life that can at first be hard to fill, especially if you are feeling unsure of yourself.
Immediately after a bereavement there are a lot of practical things to do, like registering the death and arranging the funeral.
Further information about bereavement and what you need to do