Support for carers
If you are looking after a loved one and you need some support, you could think about having a carers’ assessment.
Support for carers can come in many forms, including respite care, carers’ direct payments and peer support for carers to help you continue caring.
A carer regularly looks after, helps or supports someone who wouldn’t be able to manage everyday life without their help. They don’t have to be living with the person that they care for and the help they give doesn’t have to be physical. They may be caring for a partner, another relative, a friend or a neighbour. For example, it may be someone who:
- is an older person (over 60);
- is living with dementia;
- has a physical disability, learning disability, or a mental health condition;
- has sight, hearing or communication difficulties;
- has a long-term health condition; or
- has a drug or alcohol dependency.
The carer may be helping them with:
- personal care, such as washing and dressing;
- going to the toilet, or dealing with incontinence;
- eating or feeding, and taking medicines;
- getting about at home or outside;
- practical help at home, keeping them company; or
- emotional support or communicating.
If you provide regular, unpaid support to someone who could not manage without your help, the law says you have a right to have your own needs assessed, even if the person you care for has refused support services or an assessment of their own needs.
This assessment, called a carer’s assessment, gives you the chance to tell your local authority what you need as a carer and to find out what support might be available to help you. The assessment of carers’ needs explores whether you have eligible needs in your own right.
The local authority or a partner carers’ organisation will assess whether you have needs as a carer and what those needs may be. This assessment will consider the impact of caring on you. It will also look at what difficulties you may be facing and how you manage them and things that you want to achieve in your day-to-day life. It must consider other important issues, such as whether you are able or willing to carry on caring, whether you work or want to work, and whether you want to study or do more socially.
Once you have been assessed, the assessor will apply national carer’s eligibility criteria to determine if you have eligible needs. If you have eligible needs the assessor will discuss the options available to meet those needs. If your needs are not eligible you will be given information and advice.
The Government has developed some useful factsheets covering the law for carers under the Care Act. For more information visit www.gov.uk and search ‘Care Act Factsheets.’
Home-based respite services give carers a break from their caring responsibilities. A care worker would come in to look after the person they care for, so the carer can have some time off. The breaks could be regular or just when needed. Respite at home is considered to be a service for the person who is being cared for, so if they have a Personal Budget or direct payment for their own needs they could use that money to pay for it. A financial assessment of the person being cared for will confirm whether they need to pay towards the cost of this service.
Explore whether you are entitled to Carer’s Allowance. You may also qualify for Carer’s Premium or Carer’s Credit. The Government website www.gov.uk has more information on benefits including carers’ benefits. Alternatively, contact a local carer organisation who may be able to help you undertake a benefit check.
There are a number of local voluntary organisations providing information, advice and
support to carers. See ‘Useful Local Contacts’ for more information.