A carer’s assessment is an opportunity to let your local council know what support services you need. The assessment will look at how caring affects your life and how to address your own physical, mental and emotional needs. It will also ask whether you wish to carry on caring or whether there are any aspects of the caring role that you feel unable to continue with or take on.
Do I have a right to a carer’s assessment?
Is it about how well I care?
Who will carry out the carer’s assessment?
What does the process involve?
Do I need to do anything before the assessment to prepare?
Since 1995, a carer providing substantial support to another person on an unpaid basis has been entitled to a carer’s assessment. The Care Act 2014 strengthened this right by extending it to more carers, recognising that those providing any level of regular care, may benefit from this process and may themselves be entitled to support.
The Care Act also brought in national criteria which the local council must measure against in deciding if a carer is eligible for support. You will meet the eligibility criteria if there is likely to be a significant impact on your wellbeing as a result of caring for another person.
Caroline doesn’t think of herself as a carer because she and her husband have always looked after each other in sickness and in health. However, since her husband had his stroke she is doing a lot for him and their relationship has changed.
Chris keeps and eye on his sister who has mental ill health. He gives her a lot of emotional support, helps her deal with paperwork and takes her to appointments.
Both Caroline and Chris could have a carer’s assessment.
Young carers and parent carers have their right to a carer’s assessment set down in the Children and Families Act 2014. This places a duty on councils to identify young carers and parent carers in their area.
No, don’t be put off by the word assessment. It is not about how well you are doing but is about how caring impacts on you and your well-being.
Sam was concerned about having an assessment as he felt that he wasn’t coping and would be judged. However, the opposite was true. He was listened to and supported to think about things that would help him cope.
This does vary depending on the county. The law says that local authorities have a duty to make the arrangements but they can ask local organisations to carry out the work on their behalf. It is increasingly common for at least some of the work to be carried out by a voluntary sector organisation. However in some local councils, the carer’s assessments are still carried out by social workers or social work assistants.
Assessments can be done at a face-to-face meeting, over the phone or online and depending on your area and the organisation’s capacity, you may or may not have a choice about this.
The first stage of the process is about gathering information, most or all of which will be provided by you. Some local councils ask carers to fill in a form by themselves, others offer telephone or face-to-face appointments with someone commissioned by the council. An appointed worker will go through the questionnaire with you. You can ask for information provided by others, such as a family member, friend or health professional, to be considered as well. Or you can ask for someone who knows you well to be present at the appointment.
The information put down on the carer’s assessment questionnaire is then viewed by an assessor. The assessor may be someone at the local council or the role may be delegated to the same voluntary organisation. Their job is to consider the following main questions.
- are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
- does you caring role prevent you from doing things that most people take for granted?
- is there likely to be a significant impact on your wellbeing?
It is the job of the assessor to decide if you are eligible for support and if so, to put a support plan in place.
At her carer’s assessment appointment, it came to light that Eloise wasn’t claiming her full benefit entitlement. She also talked a lot about how alone she felt since giving up work and about her worries for the future as her mother’s health declines.
During the appointment, the carers assessment worker gave Eloise a lot of information about workshops and courses for carers that might help her prepare for the future and reduce stress and anxiety. The worker also referred Eloise for a benefits check.
All this information was sent to the council, where the assessor checked what had been done. The assessor also awarded a one off payment to enable Eloise to attend the workshops or to take a different type of short break from caring.
If you can, it is useful to prepare for the assessment.
- Think about how much caring you are doing, and what it involves. For example, you could be:
- offering emotional support
- helping with personal care, which might include helping someone to wash and dress or use the toilet
- giving practical help, like cooking meals, cleaning, shopping
- arranging appointments
- managing finances and paperwork
- needing to be around to make sure someone is safe and not at risk of harming themselves
- helping the person you care for to get out
2. Give some thought to how caring affects:
- your personal relationships
- work or education
- your ability to have a social life and to exercise
- how it impacts on you emotionally
- whether it affects things like your sleep
3. Consider what might sustain you in your caring role and help you to look after yourself. Examples of what some carers have had help to organise include:
- joining a gym or taking up a hobby
- booking some relaxing therapies
- having a short break away
- buying equipment or a service that makes caring easier
This isn’t always an easy process. But is the first step to recognising how much you do and taking action to prevent your caring role from becoming overwhelming.
Find out how Carers Support Centre can help you get a carer’s assessment in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.