Carers UK reported that in 2023 nearly three quarters of carers with bad or very bad mental health are continuing to provide care despite feeling they are at breaking point. At the CBF we are passionate about ensuring unpaid carers know about their right to support.
If you provide regular unpaid support to a child, young person or adult with a severe learning disability you are entitled to a carers assessment. This could apply even if your relative doesn’t live with you, because it is about the amount of support you provide, not whether you live with the person. You don’t have to be a parent either; siblings, aunts, grandparents may all be entitled to an assessment. A carers assessment is different and separate from your relative’s social care needs assessment but may be done at the same time.
A carer’s assessment can be requested by speaking to the social worker of the person you care for, if your relative doesn’t have a named Social Worker ask the local authority social services department that funds their care and support. Some local authorities ask a local carers organisation to complete carers assessments for them, so don’t worry if you are signposted to one of those.
A carer’s assessment is an opportunity for you to express your views and concerns about your caring role. It must consider
- the amount of care you are willing and able to provide
- whether you work, or wish to
- whether you are undertaking education, training or a leisure activity, or wish to
- your health
- the impact of caring on your well being
- whether you have caring responsibilities for anyone else such as a child or elderly relative
- planning for emergencies
It’s a good idea to have a think about your caring role before the assessment:
- Make a list of all the support you provide, it could help to keep a diary for a week or so because you probably do much more than you think!
- Think about how caring for your relative impacts your life – are there things you would like to do but can’t? Are there things you used to do but had to give up? How does caring affect your relationships with your family and friends? Do you feel isolated or exhausted?
- Think about what would happen if you were unwell or unable to care due to an emergency – would your relative need support from paid carers?
- Consider asking for the assessment to be completed when your relative isn’t with you so you can speak freely and focus on your needs.
During the assessment be honest and try not to play down your caring role and the impact it has on your day to day life. Remember the word assessment relates to your needs, it is not a judgement of your abilities – you are doing an important job and deserve support!
Following the assessment, if you are eligible for support the LA will develop a plan detailing how they will support you. How carers needs are met may vary from authority to authority and it should definitely vary from person to person, but you could be entitled to
- Practical support such as a cleaner
- Emotional support such as counselling
- Support for your wellbeing such as social groups and activities that you enjoy doing
- Equipment and home improvements
- Training to help you care for your relative
- Extra care for your relative so you can take a break
In some authorities carers with eligible needs are offered a budget to spend on the support detailed in their plan whilst in others the services are provided directly. Some people like to have the freedom to spend the money as and when they need it, but others like to just turn up and not have to worry about paying.
“I asked for a carpet because my carpet was really, really old with my son spilling things on it. It made me feel so much better, just to be able to have a new carpet.”
Maria, speaking on the CBF podcast
Councils are advised not to charge carers for support, but again this varies. You might need to have a financial assessment to see how much you need to contribute towards your support, but if paying would create a barrier to accessing support do discuss this with the person who completes your assessment.
We know that requesting an assessment can be difficult, it can be difficult to talk about your needs when you are fighting for your relatives needs to be met. It can be hard to find the time to sit down and be honest about how you are feeling. But it is important to look after yourself, so you can look after others, so please take the first step and if you haven’t already, ask your local authority for a carers assessment today!
“That money is for you to look after you… you can use the money, you know, whichever way that supports your well being that is agreed with the person (assessing), the process is quite smooth, you have a chat, you fill in a form. And so that’s a very good thing”
Eva, speaking on the CBF podcast
For more information please visit