Whats in this section?

Whats in this section?

Who is a Carer?

A carer regularly looks after, helps or supports someone who wouldn’t manage everyday life without their help. You don’t have to be living with the person you care for, and the support you give doesn’t have to be physical. You may be caring for a partner, another relative, a friend or a neighbour; for example, it may be someone who:

  • Is over 60.
  • Is living with dementia.
  • Has a physical disability, learning disability, or a mental health condition.
  • Has sight, hearing or communication difficulties.
  • Suffers with a long-term health condition.
  • Has a drug or alcohol dependency.

You 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.
  • Emotional support or communicating.

Becoming a Carer

If you provide regular, unpaid support to someone who could not manage without your help, 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.
In this case, the assessment you would be offered is called a carers’ assessment and gives you the chance to tell your local authority what you need as a carer and find out what support is available to help you.

Your local authority, or a carers’ organisation partnered with the council, will assess what needs as a carer may be, rest assured this assessment is not a test of your abilities as a carer. A carer’s assessment will consider:

  • The impact of caring on you.
  • What difficulties you may be facing and how you manage them.
  • Things that you want to achieve in your day-to-day life.

It also considers other vital issues, such as whether you are able or willing to carry on caring, whether you work or want to work, and if you wish to study or do more socially.

How to get a carer’s assessment

A carer’s assessment is free and anyone over 18 can ask for one.

It’s separate from the needs assessment the person you care for might have, but you can ask to have them both done at the same time.

Contact adult social services at your local council and ask for a carer’s assessment.

If you’re a parent carer or a child, contact the children with disabilities department.

Carer’s assessments are usually conducted face to face. Some councils can do it over the phone or online. Assessments usually last an hour.

You’ll usually get the results of the assessment within a week. If you qualify for help from the council, they’ll write a care and support plan with you that sets out how they can help.

Carers’ eligibility criteria

National carer’s eligibility criteria are used to determine if your needs meet the requirements. 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 suitable for your need instead.
The council uses three questions to work out whether carers are eligible for support:

  1. Do your needs arise because you are providing necessary care for an adult?
  2. Do these needs mean you are unable to achieve any of the tasks or ‘outcomes’ below?
  3. As a result of this, is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?

You need to meet all three of the criteria to be eligible.


The outcomes that will be looked at when assessing your needs include determining whether you can:

  • Care for any children or other people you are responsible for, as well as the adult you are caring for.
  • Maintain a habitable and safe home environment for yourself.
  • Manage your own nutrition.
  • Maintain other personal relationships, including with your family.
  • Take part in work, training, education or volunteering.
  • Make use of facilities or services in your local community.
  • Have free time for hobbies and relaxation.

If you don’t qualify for help from your council

Your GP may be able to offer you additional support, even if you aren’t eligible for support from the council. Download our information guide to see how your GP might help.

Respite services for carers

Respite services offer support for carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities so you can have some time off; these breaks could be regular or just when needed and can be as short as an afternoon or as long as a few weeks.

As respite is considered a service for the person you care for, as the replacement support is provided for them, if they have a personal budget or direct payment for their own needs, they could use that money to pay for it. Whether the person being cared for will need to pay towards the cost of this service will depend on a financial assessment.

Replacement support could mean the person you care for living in a care home for a short period or hiring a live-in care service or home care agency to come in and look after the person you support. Getting replacement support would also depend on a financial assessment of the person being cared for.

The Local Authority may give carers’ direct payments to pay towards the cost of a holiday or trip out if you have had a carers’ assessment and it has found that you are eligible for a short break or respite.

If you care for someone and need some support, you can find details of your local carers’ centre here.

You can find details of adult day care centres here.

You can search for respite care here.

Benefits for carers

You may be eligible for a carer’s allowance if you care for someone for more than 35 hours a week and if the individual receiving care is in receipt of certain benefits, such as Personal Independence Payments or Disability Living Allowance.

The rate for Carer’s Allowance is set at £64.60 per week; this may change after April 2019. You can claim Carer’s Allowance online on the Gov.UK website.

If you care for someone for 20 hours a week or more, you may also qualify for Carer’s Credit.

Young Carers Support

Caring for another can be a stressful and isolating task for young people especially, some of which start helping out with care from an early age. However, acting as a young carer can also impact their education and life experiences, leaving a lasting impact; because of this, there are several different types of support available just for young carers in these situations.

What makes a young carer

Every day across the UK, thousands of young people help look after a family member or friend who is ill, disabled, or misusing drugs or alcohol; the care they provide can include doing extra jobs around the home, such as:

  • daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning and food shopping
  • physical care such as helping a person to move around, lifting them or with physiotherapy
  • personal care such as dressing, washing and going to the toilet
  • administering medication
  • managing the family budget or collecting prescriptions
  • interpreting, i.e. if the family member has a hearing or speech impediment or if English is not their first language
  • looking after younger siblings
  • emotional support

Young carers can experience several effects as a result of these additional responsibilities. The positive effects can include greater understanding and compassion for those with disabilities and illnesses, greater maturity and determination; however, the negative effects of this can often outweigh the positive; these can include:

  • missing or struggling with school because of other commitments
  • physical pain because of the difficulty of constantly helping to lift the person they’re caring for
  • worry and stress over the difficulty of managing their daily lives
  • resentment over the loss of their freedom
  • loneliness due to not being able to spend time with friends or do other activities

Where to get support for young carers

There are several avenues for young people to obtain the support they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and education while being a carer.
It’s also important to remember a young carer should not have to do the same things as an adult carer.

Depending on their needs, all disabled adults are entitled to support from their local council. As a result, they should not have to rely solely on their children to care for them.
If you or your parents request it, a social worker from your local authority must visit to carry out a young carer’s assessment; these assessments must include:

  • whether the young carer can provide care for the person in question
  • whether the young person is likely to continue to provide care after they turn 18
  • the impact of the young carers needs for support on the individual who needs care
  • the young person’s wishes for their day to day life and future goals
  • education, training and leisure opportunities the young person wishes to take part in

The local authority must also consider whether a transition to adult care and support for the individual receiving care will need to occur if the young person stops contributing towards the individual’s care. Possible reasons for changes in circumstances could include the young person leaving for university, employment, or other reasons.

You can find out more information about young carers assessments and how to apply for one on the NHS website.

Young carers benefits

If you are over the age of 16 and not in full-time education, you may be eligible for help finding work.

You could also be eligible for help with your family’s finances through benefits such as:

Juggling caring and school

For many young carers, while school can provide a break from life at home, it can also be challenging to juggle their caring commitments with the home-based study involved in school (e.g. homework etc.).
If you’re struggling to keep up with the workload or falling behind, you should talk to your teacher about this.

It can seem intimidating or uncomfortable to discuss your situation with them, but they want you to succeed as your teacher. Moreover, if they know about your caring role, they may provide you with some extra help with your studies; this can include:

  • extra time for school work
  • homework support groups during lunch breaks or before/after school
  • permission to take emergency calls and messages during class

A GP, nurse or social worker should also help you organise additional support such as drop-in support from a care agency worker for the person you care for so that you don’t have to miss school.

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