Like nurses and teachers, carers are one of the unsung heroes in the UK. You are a carer if you care for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without your support.
What many of us don’t realise is that you, as a carer, also need support; emotionally, financially and practically. The level of support needed will differ based on your personal circumstances, but, we have seen that almost all carers need some amount of support.
This is where Carer Assessments come in handy.
Carer Assessments are an opportunity to discuss with the local council what support or services you need. The assessment will look at how caring affects your life, including for example, physical, mental and emotional needs, and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring.
Who can have an assessment?
If you are a carer you are entitled to an assessment to determine the level of support you need, regardless of f the amount or type of care you provide, your financial means or your level of need for support.
These assessments are carried out by your local council adult social services and can be done even before you take on caring duties. Please visit your local council either in person or via their website to ask for an assessment. You should be able to find the information in Health and Social care section of your council’s website. Alternatively, please visit your local care centre(link to Harrow Carers) and they can point you in the right direction.
You can even be assessed as a carer if the person you are looking after has had a needs assessment or if the local council have decided that they are not eligible for support. Often a needs assessment of you and the person you are looking after can be done at the same time. Please discuss this with your local council. If more than one person is caring for a person, even if that person is a young carer under the age of 18, each carer is entitled to their own assessment.
How is the assessment done?
Assessments can be done over the phone or online. Your local council may carry out a supported self-assessment. This could involve you filling in a self- assessment questionnaire, and then being contacted by the local council to discuss what you have written on the form.
Many councils prefer to conduct assessments in person and this is usually done at your home or at the council office.
Your assessment should cover:
- your caring role and how it affects your life and wellbeing
- your health – physical, mental and emotional issues
- your feelings and choices about caring
- work, study, training, leisure
- relationships, social activities and your goals
- planning for emergencies (such as a Carer Emergency Scheme) – the local council should be able to tell you more about what they can do to help you plan for an emergency
The aim of the assessments is to help you get the support you need. Be as open and honest as you can and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to share your thoughts and feelings with the support worker.
What happens next?
Once your assessment is complete, to be able to receive services and/or direct payments from the local council, you will need to meet the national eligibility criteria and therefore have what the law calls ‘eligible needs’.
You will meet the eligibility criteria if your well-being is affected by your caring duties.
There are three questions that the local council will need to consider when making their decision.
- Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
- Does your caring role have an effect on you?
- Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?
If the answer to all three questions is yes, then you will have eligible needs.
If you don’t have eligible needs…
If the local council decides that you do not have eligible needs, then will receive a written explanation for this assessment.
You should also be given advice and information about what could be done to prevent or reduce your needs either now or in the future, based on your specific circumstances.
If you do have eligible needs…
If the local council decides that you do have eligible needs, then providing you want them to, they have a legal obligation to meet these needs and must draw up a support plan detailing how these needs will be met.
It may be agreed that the best way to help you as a carer is by providing services directly to you, by providing services to the person you are looking after, or a combination of both.
The local council can provide services themselves, or arrange services through another organisation. Alternatively, you or the person you are looking after can request direct payments, which are payments which enable you to buy services to meet your eligible needs. For more information you can view the direct payments section of our website.
The local council may or may not charge you for carers support, most councils do not. If they do, they must carry out a financial assessment to work out whether you must contribute and if so, how much. If the help you are offered is free, the local council do not have to carry out a financial assessment.
Note: If the local council do charge for carers support and the outcome of your financial assessment is that you will have to pay the full charge, then the local council only must meet your needs and draw up a support plan if you ask them too. The local council can then issue an additional charge for this.
The support plan must include:
- details of the needs identified in the assessment
- which needs meet the eligibility criteria
- which needs the local council is going to meet, and how
- the outcomes that you want to achieve
- information about the personal budget available (the amount of money that the local council has worked out it will cost to arrange the necessary support for you)
- information about direct payments
- information and advice to support you in your role as a carer and address your needs
Some examples of the kind of help that could be available directly to you as a carer include:
- help with transport costs, such as taxi fares or driving lessons
- costs for a car where transport was crucial, such as repairs and insurance
- technology to support you, such as a mobile phone, computer where it is not possible to access computer services elsewhere
- help with housework or gardening
- help to relieve stress, improve health and promote wellbeing such as a gym membership
Some examples of the kind of help that could be available to the person you are looking after, to help you as a carer include:
- changes to their home to make it more suitable
- equipment such as a hoist or grab rail
- a care worker to help provide personal care at home
- a temporary stay in residential care/respite care
- meals delivered to their home
- a place at a day centre
- assistance with travel, for example to get to a day centre
- laundry services
- replacement care so you can have a break
The aim of this article is to give you an overview of the kind of support available to you, as a carer. To obtain an assessment of what you are and are not eligible to receive, please contact your local council or your local carer centre.
Your local carer centre will be able to point you in the right direction and will guide you step-by-step on how you can be assessed and how you can access the support you need.
At Working for Carers, our aim is to help carers, like you, find flexible or part-time employment that works around your caring duties. Caring for carers and looking after your needs is our purpose of existence. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on 0208 868 5224 to find out how we can help you.