person supporting someone

If your relative or friend has been diagnosed with MND or Kennedy’s disease, supporting them may feel part of your relationship. However, health and social care services describe someone who provides unpaid care support as a 'carer'. This term can help you identify support for carers. See carer wellbeing activities at the bottom of this page.

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“I think that sometimes people take on a caring role, but don’t realise they are carers and don’t get the help that is available to them.”

Carer, supporting a person with MND


What to expect with MND or Kennedy's disease

For details about the conditions and likely symptoms, see What is MND? or What is Kennedy’s disease?

For details about managing daily challenges, see our Living with MND pages. These pages may also be useful for people with or affected by Kennedy's disease.

Our Personal care booklet can be helpful when thinking about support. Our Types of care booklet gives an overview of the range of care available with MND or Kennedy's disease.

Support for carers is just as important as support for the person who has been diagnosed. If you wish to continue in the caring role, maintaining your wellbeing can help you manage the challenges ahead.

You may find it helpful to register as a carer with your GP, as this can lead to a range of appropriate support. This could include linking into both national and local services, or schemes that focus on carers.

“Accept help when it’s offered. I am getting better at this. I want to be able to do it all by myself, but I just can’t. I won’t be able to survive if I do.”

MND is unpredictable and symptoms can progress quickly. Accepting that change will happen can help everyone involved to plan ahead. The benefit of planning is that you are more likely to get the right support at the right time.

If you become unable to provide support for any reason, you'll need to access external support for the person with MND. This can also help as their symptoms progress. When their needs increase, so will the challenges of care.

No individual with MND will have exactly the same symptoms in the same order as someone else. The rate at which the disease progresses can also vary widely, but is often rapid. It can feel as though MND is always one step ahead.

For example, if you wait until point of need to source equipment, it may no longer be suitable for use by the time it arrives. This can be frustrating and costly.

Getting the person with MND's needs assessed (and your own as a carer) is important. This can help you work out appropriate services, support and aids to meet current and likely future needs. Some equipment may also be free or available on loan.

See our information resources for our full information provision, including publications for carers.

These include our summary, Caring and MND: quick guide if you are new to caring. The quick guide is also available in audio format.

Our comprehensive guide for carers, Caring and MND: support for you is designed to help you look after your own wellbeing, when facing the challenges that MND brings.

Find out more about Kennedy’s disease in information sheet 2B – Kennedy’s disease.

How do I look after myself?

When supporting someone who is ill, taking care of yourself can often take second place. It may feel impossible to think about eating and sleeping well, let alone keeping fit, taking breaks or following a hobby or interest.

“Advice about looking after yourself, taking breaks and so on, is the most difficult to follow. It’s perfectly sound – we understand the good sense employed – just impossible to accomplish.”

However, care needs can increase rapidly with MND, and may increase over time with Kennedy’s disease. Your own physical and emotional health can be affected. If left unchecked, there may come a point where you are no longer able to continue caring, even if you wish to do so.

You may find it helpful to register as a carer with your GP, as this can lead to a range of appropriate support. This could include linking into both national and local services, or schemes that focus on carers.

As difficult as it may be, there may come a time when you need help. In the meantime, taking a practical approach can be useful. For example, tackle the most important things first and leave non-essential tasks – adapting your daily routines can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

For suggestions and guidance on wellbeing, see Section 8: Looking after yourself, in our comprehensive guide, Caring and MND: support for you.

We also provide a guide for people with or affected by MND, called Emotional and psychological support, with information about different therapies. It includes guidance for carers.

You deserve support too.

Where can I find wellbeing activities?

Finding time for self-care can be difficult in a caring role. Yet, taking a few moments to stretch, loosen up or unwind can help you relax. You matter too.

We’ve included some gentle mindfulness, meditation and exercise routines at the bottom of this page, beneath the drop-down options. These short audio and video resources have been created by experienced practitioners, to help you support your own wellbeing as a carer.

The following links may also help you find activities or techniques to support your wellbeing:

Explore our carer events page to find out if activities and carer support meetings are happening in your area.

For suggestions and guidance on wellbeing, see Section 8: Looking after yourself, in our comprehensive guide, Caring and MND: support for you.

You may also find our information sheet 6B – Complementary therapies useful.

What are my rights as a carer?

You have the right to ask for a carer’s assessment whether or not you live with the person you support. This applies whether you provide full-time or part-time care, or combine care with paid work. An assessment can help work out the support you may need as a carer.

“I know I won’t be able to do it all on my own soon…I don’t know how to bridge the reality of his needs with my capability.”

In brief, you have the right to:

  • have your views taken into consideration by the local social services/adult care services when they are assessing the needs of the person you support
  • an assessment of your needs as a carer
  • have your interests, work, family life and life ‘outside of caring’ taken into account
  • take a break from caring
  • benefits and financial support, where applicable
  • request flexible working from your employer.

You can find out more detail about carers’ rights in England, Wales or Northern Ireland in Section 3: Your rights as a carer from our comprehensive guide, Caring and MND: support for you.

Contact our helpline MND Connect if you have any specific questions.

How do I get a carer's assessment?

A carer’s assessment enables you to tell adult social care services how they can make caring easier for you.

You should  be offered an assessment as soon as you have been identified as a carer. If not, ask your local authority for an appointment or, in Northern Ireland, your local health and social care trust.

The assessment does not judge your capability as a carer, but allows you to discuss whether you can or wish to continue caring. If you are likely to remain in the caring role, the assessment then looks at the help you may need.

Try to give lots of detail to ensure any resulting support plan will meet your needs.

“Contacting adult social care services to ask for a carer’s assessment seems a very useful thing to do.”

Detailed guidance is given in Section 4: Carer’s assessment of our comprehensive guide for carers: Caring and MND: support for you. This includes information about the questions you’re likely to be asked at an assessment.

See also information sheet 10B - What is social care? for details about how someone with MND or Kennedy's disease can get their needs assessed.

We also provide a short summary booklet if you are new to the caring role: Caring and MND: quick guide. This booklet is also available in audio format.

Our pocket sized booklet, What you should expect from your care, can help people with MND gain better outcomes for treatment and care, by supporting discussions at appointments. It may also be useful during a carer’s assessment, as it can help show the range of care someone with MND is likely to need.

The content of this pocket booklet is based on the main points from the NICE guideline on motor neurone disease. NICE guidelines are recommendations from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, to help professionals support conditions, such as MND. The guideline on MND recognises that carers need help too, with a clear recommendation that professionals let you know about your right to a carer’s assessment.

Our guides and other resources can be ordered in print from our helpline, MND Connect. You can also contact our helpline with specific questions.

What support is available?

Your circumstances, income and the number of hours you provide care may all affect how you qualify for support. Your carer’s assessment will help work out if you qualify (known as having ‘eligible needs’).

As a carer, you may be able to get help with:

  • household tasks or gardening
  • a mobile phone or computer, where it is not possible to access computer services elsewhere
  • essential transport costs, such as taxi fares, driving lessons, or car repairs 
  • help to improve your wellbeing, such as membership to a gym or hobby club.

“I needed someone in authority to tell me that after seven and a half years of caring and not sleeping properly, it was okay to take a break.”

The person you support can also have a needs assessment - see information sheet 10B - What is social care? This can lead to assistance that may also help you as a carer, such as:

  • respite or replacement care so you can take a break
  • a care worker to help provide personal care at home
  • laundry services or meals delivered at home
  • changes to the home to make it more suitable, or equipment such as a hoist or grab rail
  • assistance with travel to appointments or a day centre.

If you or the person with MND or Kennedy’s disease qualify for support, you will each receive an individual support plan with the agreed services outlined, and the cost. A financial assessment will work out how much you need to pay towards the cost and how much will be paid by your local authority – or health and social care trust in Northern Ireland.

Services can be arranged for you or you can decide to accept direct payments, where you select and arrange services of your own choosing. If you receive direct payments, you are responsible for this funding. To find out more, see Information sheet 10B - What is social care?

See Useful organisations and internet sites for examples of relevant services and providers.

You may also find it helpful to register as a carer with your GP, as this can lead to a range of appropriate support. This could include linking into both national and local services, or schemes that focus on carers.

What support does the MND Association provide?

“My Association visitor has been really, really helpful…and has been very good at keeping one eye on the future.”

Carer, supporting a person with MND

Where available, our Association visitors are trained volunteers, who can offer guidance by phone, email or home visit.

We offer a wide range of other support for unpaid or family carers of people with MND or Kennedy’s disease. This includes publications and other resources, access to all Our services including the MND Connect helpline and Grants for carers. You may come across medical and research terms when reading about MND - see our page on What do all the words and initials mean?

Explore our Carer events page to find out if activities and carer support meetings are happening in your area.

If you’re a carer or young person aged 11 to 18, see our pages for Children and young people, which includes information for parents and guardians too. 

See Useful organisations and internet sites for examples of other services and providers.

How do I manage being employed as well as the caring role?

When supporting someone with a serious illness, you may worry about staying in employment at the same time. This can also raise concerns about finance – especially if the person with MND or Kennedy’s disease decides to leave work. You may also find it difficult to explain what is happening to colleagues.

“Dealing with work colleagues who don’t have much idea what caring is all about can be tricky, as you often don’t have the energy to talk about things.”

We provide information sheet 10E: Work and MND to answer common questions. See also Section 6: Work and financial support in our comprehensive guide Caring and MND: support for you.

Are there any benefits I can claim?

Support for carers is available through the benefits system, depending on your circumstances.

As a carer, you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance if you provide 35 hours of care or more a week, for a person who receives Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. Other benefits may also be available, depending on your situation.

For details, see Section 6: Work and financial support in our comprehensive guide Caring and MND: support for you.

We also provide Information sheet 10A: Benefits and entitlements, which introduces all of the main benefits that both you and the person you support may be able to claim.

10G: Support for families with children gives details of benefits and financial support that can help if there are children or young people in your family.

“Support is out there, but you have to know the system and fight for it.”

If you have never claimed benefits before, it may feel daunting at first. However, it is your right to claim. If you qualify, the financial support may bring you peace of mind.

If you are a carer, or living with MND or Kennedy’s disease, contact our Benefits Advice Service for advice about benefits and how to claim. Our team of qualified advisers can provide support by phone and email in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Web chat is also available in England and Wales.

The service can help you identify available benefits and the best way of claiming them. You can also get help for complex benefits issues and appeals.

A home visit to help with the completion of forms may be possible, depending on your circumstances and where you live.

We also offer Grants for carers at the MND Association, which can help towards taking a break from the caring role.

What happens in the future, when I'm no longer a carer?

Being a carer can be an intense experience. It is usually emotional and tiring. However, many carers tell us it can also be rewarding and an opportunity to spend time with the person you support.

It also provides a sense of purpose and routine that can be hard to let go.

You may remain involved throughout the course of the disease. If the person you support accepts external help from a care worker, it can reduce some of the demand on your time and enable other things to happen.

With MND, the care may become complex or require medical supervision – the person you support may even need to spend time in a nursing home. Yet, in these instances you can still be included in their care, if you wish.

However, when the person dies, the caring role stops abruptly. Not only are you dealing with bereavement, but a sudden loss of purpose too. Your life may feel very different to the life you lived as a carer, or prior to becoming a carer. It can take time to adjust again.

Will I need a health check?

It is at this point that the emotional and physical challenges of the caring role may catch up with you. A check up with your GP is recommended, even if you feel you're coping well.

Your doctor can monitor any sense of being ‘run down’ and advise if grief overwhelms you for a long period of time, or makes it difficult to manage daily life.

Further information

You may find it helpful to read Section 10: Beyond the caring role in our guide Caring and MND: support for you. This offers support about handing over care, dealing with bereavement and adjusting to life beyond the caring role.

We also provide Finding your way with bereavement, which is designed to help you, your family and friends find emotional support. It also includes information on anticipatory grief, a practical overview of what to do when someone dies, and how to support children and young people who may also be grieving.

Carer wellbeing activities 

See the drop-down option above for other wellbeing activities. Short audio and video activities are featured below. All have been created by experienced practitioners, to help support carer wellbeing with mindfulness, meditation and gentle exercise.

We know how difficult it can be to find time for yourself, so each activity is only 10-25 minutes long. You decide how, where and when you want to use them.

Disclaimer: It’s important to read the notes below before attempting these activities. Neither the practitioners featured on this page or the MND Association assume responsibility for any injuries experienced during these sessions.

Before you begin

We recommend listening to or watching each activity first, even if movement is not included. Think about safety, within your personal physical limitations. Build up any movement slowly, rather than force and strain.

Always consult your GP or specialist health care professionals before beginning a new exercise programme. This is particularly important if you have a specific injury or disease, or if you are pregnant.

Our practitioners

Julia Mitchell is qualified to lead sessions in Shibashi Qigong and Daily Tai Chi. Julia is also a member of the Shibashi Training Academy and the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain.

Graeme Waterfield is a qualified tai chi, meditation and yoga instructor, with 25 years experience.

Tracy Woodward is a qualified gym instructor who particularly enjoys running outdoor sessions. She is also qualified in nutrition for physical performance and general nutrition and weight management advice.

person exercising

Chair Based Relaxation with Graeme Waterfield

This activity is chair based without movement, as shown in the photograph.  While seated comfortably, listen to the audio track as Graeme takes you through a relaxing routine.


person exercising

Progressive Body Relaxation with Graeme Waterfield

This activity does not require movement. While lying down, listen to the audio track as Graeme takes you through a routine on body awareness and relaxation.

person exercising

Chair based stretch with Graeme Waterfield

This activity requires gentle movement. While seated, watch the video as Graeme takes you through a simple stretch routine.

person exercising

Tai Chi session with Julia Mitchell

This activity requires slow, controlled movement. While standing, the aim is to relax, and improve posture and mobility. Find out more about Tai Chi from the NHS.

person exercising

Exercise session with Tracy Woodward

This low impact cardio activity requires repeated movements, where you will be standing, stretching and bending. The aim is to loosen up and increase energy levels at the beginning of your day - or whenever you wish.

Page last updated: 16 August 2023
Next review: January 2025