Carers Rights Day took place at the end of November and we welcomed the opportunity to talk about the rights carers have, as well as to reach out generally to people who might be looking after someone but unaware that they are a carer.

This year we also ran a campaign called ‘I Wish I’d Known’ and invited carers to tell us what they wish they’d known when they started caring for someone. We had almost 100 responses and it was really enlightening to hear about people’s experiences and to be able to share these on our social media channels.

The situations carers are in are often quite different. Some people will be caring for a child, some for an older parent. Circumstances, such as financial position or if someone lives with the person they care for can also make a difference to how challenging the caring role is.

But the responses we received also highlighted how much all carers have in common. For example, many people said they wish they’d known they were a carer sooner and reached out for support for themselves. Or that they’d prioritised their own self-care and not taken everything on without asking for help.

Below are some of the responses you sent us. Thanks to everyone who took the time to tell us what they wish they’d known. We hope that these are helpful to anyone who is new to caring, or simply new to acknowledging that they are a carer.

“I wish I’d known who I could talk to. I’m not used to asking for help, but now I need help I don’t know how to ask.” – Eric

“I wish I’d known how isolating it can be and to have ensured I did things just for me sooner.” – Anonymous

“I wish I’d known I needed to arrange for a friend to come and sit with my husband early on, to get him used to someone else sitting with him. Then if things get tough later on, you can keep going.” – Jenni

“I wish I’d known that I could take time off work, and I wish I had known all the support I can get.” – Chloe

“I wish I’d known I should get the Power of Attorney signed years before my husband became ill.” – Jen

“I wish I’d known that I was actually a carer and that I could claim carers allowance and NI credits for my pension.” – Helen

“I wish I’d known you need so much patience, especially with someone with dementia.” – Heather

“I wish I’d known that there really are people out there that understand and care.” – Katie

“I wish I’d known that it’s ok to take some ‘me time’ without feeling guilty.” – Carla

In a quick survey we conducted for Carers Rights Day, 60% of respondents said they were not informed at all about the rights they had when they first became a carer, 38% said they were informed about some rights and only 1% said they were very informed about the rights they had.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your caring role, what would be of help to you and any difficulties you have, you can call Carer Support Dorset on 0800 368 8349 (view hours we are available). Or please email and someone will respond to you.

You can also visit our Information Hub to find out more about knowing your rights.