Practical care

Carers often give practical care to patients. This can include doing household chores, preparing meals and providing transport.

Sometimes these roles can be overwhelming when you have other responsibilities such as running your own home, looking after your children or going to work. Speak with the other carers who are looking after your loved one. Try to share out the practical jobs fairly. Keep your life as normal as possible by prioritising what needs to be done.

On this page you will find information and advice on:

Household chores

Ask your family member or loved one what they would like help with. Remember it's their home. Your loved one may be entitled to home care supports, so speak to the medical social worker in the hospital or your local Health Service Executive (HSE) office. You can ring the HSE Helpline  on 1850 241850 or find your local HSE office.

Note: The Irish Cancer Society is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Preparing meals

If your loved one is not feeling well, or is having side-effects after their treatment, they may not have any appetite. It can be hard to know what meals to prepare. Speak to the hospital dietitian or see our booklet on Diet and Cancer (PDF 3MB).  This booklet gives helpful tips for carers about meals for someone with cancer.

The HSE funds a Meals on Wheels service in some areas. Your family member or loved one may be entitled to this service. For more information and a possible referral, contact your local public health nurse or speak to a medial social worker. Click here to find your local HSE office.  


Carers often support their loved ones with travel to hospital for appointments and treatment. But if they can't help with these important journeys, help is available. The Irish Cancer Society runs two programmes to help with travelling to and from appointments. These are;

  • The Volunteer Driver Service, where trained drivers can give you a lift to and from appointments, and
  • The Travel2Care programme, which helps with the costs of transport.

For more information on both these services, and which hospitals and treatment options they cover, see: patient transport


It's a good idea to talk to your loved one about their finances from the start. If you are in contact with a medical social worker, they can advise you on how to apply for suitable payments or supports for your loved one.

The Irish Cancer Society has also produced a booklet on Managing the Financial Impact of Cancer (PDF 1.12MB). It sets out the social welfare supports and other benefits you may find helpful. You can get a free copy by calling our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700, or by visiting a Daffodil Centre.

You can also call into your INTREO office and speak to a Department of Social Protection official about exceptional needs payments. These payments used to be available from the HSE's Community Welfare Officers, but are now now assessed by DSP officers. Or, you can talk to an information officer in your local Citizens Information Centre Service. You will find a list of CIC centres on this website:  

Carer’s entitlements

The Carer’s Leave Act 2001 allows employees in Ireland to leave their job temporarily to care for someone who needs full-time care and attention. The shortest period of leave allowed is 13 weeks and the longest is 104 weeks.

Carer’s leave is unpaid but your employer must keep your job open for you while on leave. You may be eligible for Carer’s Benefit if you have enough PRSI contributions. If you do not qualify for Carer’s Benefit, you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance, which is means tested. In other words, the payment will be based on the income that your family receives through work or other social welfare payments.  

You can take Carer’s Leave even if you do not qualify for either of these payments.  For more information see here

Useful resources

Note: Links to external websites are listed below. The Irish Cancer Society is not responsible for the content of external websites

Medical equipment

If your loved one needs medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, speak to the nurses and doctors in the hospital. They will advise you. The following organisations may also be useful.

Note: Links to external websites are listed below. The Irish Cancer Society is not responsible for the content of external websites

Find out more

Visit our caring for someone with cancer section for more information on all aspects of caring.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Friday, November 25, 2016