Caring for and supporting your family member

There is a lot to think about when caring for someone with pancreatic cancer. This information can help you understand the healthcare system and access the right support.

What's in the 'Information for family members' section?

Understanding your family member’s care

There can be lots of different medical professionals involved in your loved one’s care.

What can I do?

  • Your family member should be given the details of a key contact. This may be a nurse, called a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). If you haven’t been given a key contact, ask the doctor about this.
  • Ask about the best way to contact the nurse with any questions.
  • Keep a note of important numbers, such as who to call out of hours or in an emergency.
  • Support your family member by helping to prepare questions before they speak to their doctor or nurse.
  • Keep track of the dates of appointments. If your family member is happy for you to join them at their appointments, you can make notes of what is said.
  • If they wish, the person you are caring for can give their GP and medical team permission to speak to you about their treatment and care.
  • Ask how long your family member should expect to wait for any tests, test results and treatments. You can also ask who to contact if they have not heard anything within this time.
  • If your family member is in hospital, talk to the staff about the care package for when they come home.
  • Organising care and support at home can take time – try to find out what is available before you need it.
  • Talk to the doctor or nurse about options for respite or hospice care, if your family member might need these.
older woman talking with a healthcare professional

Getting a second opinion

Your family member can ask for a second opinion on their care. If they agree, you can ask on their behalf.

Read more

What is respite care?

Respite care involves someone else looking after your family member for a short time. This may be somebody coming in to sit with them for a few hours, day care, or a stay in a care home. This can give you a break from caring, help you rest and may help you cope better. Ask the GP or district nurse about respite care.

Speak to our nurses

Our specialist nurses on our free Support Line can answer any questions you have about caring for your family member.

Speak to our nurses
Woman on phone

What other support is available?

Getting any practical support in place to help with your family member’s care can be helpful for both of you.

What can I do?

  • Ask the medical team whether your family member might be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare.
  • Ask for a social services assessment both for you and your family member if social care support would be helpful. You can have a carer’s assessment for yourself, even if your family member doesn’t need or want any support.
  • Look into what benefits and financial help you and your family member might be entitled to. They may be able to get help with transport and hospital parking costs.
  • As a carer, you have the legal right to request flexible working arrangements, such as working fewer hours or working from home. You also have the right to take time off in an emergency.
  • Organising equipment and adaptations at home can help to your loved one to stay independent and make life easier. An occupational therapist can help with this.
  • Let friends and family know if there are specific things they can do to help, such as shopping, driving or cooking. They may be able to spend time with your loved one to give you a break.
  • Support your family member if they want to start thinking about planning their future care.

Questions to ask the doctor or nurse

What are my family member’s treatment options?

Does my family member have a specialist nurse or main contact? How do we contact them?

What are the best contact details to use out of hours or in an emergency?

Where will my family member have their treatment?

What support are we entitled to?

Can we get help with hospital parking or travel to hospital?

Where can I get financial advice and support?

May 2024

To be reviewed May 2027