What is a carers assessment?
Anyone who considers themselves to be a carer and provides regular care, paid or unpaid is entitled to have a carer's assessment. This is an assessment of their own wellbeing and how caring has affected them.
It does not matter:
- Whether or not you live with the person you support
- Whether they are a relative or friend
- How many hours each week you support them
You are entitled to an assessment of your needs as a carer, even when the person you support refuses to use the services they need.
An assessment and review of your role towards the person you care for should happen at least once a year, and when there are any major changes to your circumstances.
How do I get a carer’s assessment?
Local authorities have a legal duty under the Care Act to provide an assessment, and to give you information and advice about organisations within the local authority who can support you. If this does not happen you can ring or write to your local social services Access Team for information and advice. Alternatively if the person you are caring for is under the Care Programme Approach (CPA) then the care coordinator will arrange this for you.
As a carer you may also be eligible to apply for a carers discretionary payment or a personal budget. You care coordinator will discuss this with you. A carers payment of this kind is intended to help pay towards the cost of something which will support you in your caring role or the person you care for. These are ususally one off payments specifically to help you and the person you care for in achieving an identified outcome.
Who is eligible to recieve a Carers discretionary payment?
You will be entitled to a carer’s assessment from the local authority if you meet all the following criteria:
- You are over 18
- You provide or intend to provide "substantial care on a regular basis" to another person over the age of 18
- The local authority thinks that the person you care for could potentially receive help from social services
- You are not an employed carer or a volunteer from a charity
- You ask for an assessment
The local authority will need to be satisfied that the person you care for has needs that could be met through social services in order for you to receive this payment. They will review payments every 6-12 months or if there is a change in your circumstances or the person you care for. If there is more than one carer looking after someone, you may both be entitled to a carers discretionary payment.
How will the assessment take place?
Once you have requested a carer’s assessment, social services should contact you to make arrangements to carry out the assessment, or ask local carers organsiations to carry out this piece of work. Both Camden and Islington local authorities use an assessment form, which is available on their websites and the local carers organisations such as Camden carers Centre and Islington carers Hub also have copies.
All full carers assessments should be undertaken in person, although if this is not possible for the carer then they may conducted by telephone. If the person you care for is accepting services then often the same staff member will assess both of your needs. However, if there is any reason why you would like to be assessed by a different worker, then the care coordinator will be able to arrange this for you.
Can I take someone with me?
A friend or advocate should be able to accompany you at the assessment.
What should be covered in the assessment?
The carer’s assessment should address the needs you have in your caring role when the person you care for is as well as they can be and also when they are in crisis.
The assessment should also consider whether you would like to work or take part in education/training, and how much leisure time you have. The key focus of the assessment is to find ways to support you in your caring role and find out the times when you may need more support and whether you feel able to continue to provide the same level of support.
Preparing for an assessment
It may help to prepare for your assessment to ensure that you are able to raise important points and ask for the support you need. For example you may want to consider the following:
- What care do you provide?
- Do you get enough sleep?
- Is your health affected? What is the mental, physical, emotional impact of caring?
- Are you able to get out and about?
- Do you get any time for yourself to do things you enjoy?
- Are finances a problem?
- Are your other relationships affected?
- Are you worried you may have to give up work? Or would you like to work?
- Are you interested in training or adult education for yourself?
- Is the person you care for getting enough help?
- Do you feel you know what to do in an emergency?
The assessor should not assume that you wish to carry on caring. Although you may continue to care about a person, you may be unable or reluctant to continue caring for them. If you feel unable to continue to meet some or all of the person's needs then the assessor should explore other options to meet the needs of the cared-for person.