Anyone who provides unpaid regular and substantial care 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, as long as you are giving them ‘regular and substantial’ care
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 should happen at least once a year, and when there are any major changes to your circumstances or those of the person you care for.
How to get your carer’s assessment
Staff supporting the person you care for, usually the care coordinator should talk to you about an assessment. You can request an assessment from:
- The care coordinator or treatment team
- The local social services department
- Your general practitioner (GP - they can make a referral for a carer’s assessment)
If the person you support only sees a psychiatrist (for example every six months), the community recovery team is responsible for arranging the carer’s assessment.
How your needs will be assessed
When you have an assessment you will be asked whether:
- Your health has been affected by your role as a carer
- You need emotional support
- You are currently working and wish to continue working
- You have social support (friends/family)
- You need any information about benefits
- You enjoy any leisure activities
- You are able to get out and about
Carers’ assessments aim to identify what support you may need, and to arrange ways for meeting those needs (a carer's support plan). This is to help prevent you from becoming isolated in your caring role.
If you have communication or language difficulties, we can arrange for an interpreter or signer to support you. You can also be supported by a carer support worker or advocate if you wish.
If you live in a different borough to the person you support, it is the responsibility of the health or social services team where the cared-for person lives to arrange the carer’s assessment.
If you have difficulty getting an assessment, contact the care coordinator of the person you care for, Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), the local carers’ centre, or get advice from a mental health charity such as Rethink.
If you are providing support to someone with a learning disability, Mencap can provide more information on support for carers.
What happens next?
After the assessment, you should receive a written support plan setting out how any identified needs will be met. Local services may vary but could be provided directly to the person you care for to give you a break.
Sometimes a small charge is made for some types of service, but this will be discussed with you before any services are provided.
Some services might be provided by local voluntary organisations or private agencies that can help you. Social services have also introduced 'personal budgets for carers' which allow you to buy the service yourself. To find out more about personal budgets, contact your local social services department and ask to speak with the personal budgets advisor.
It is important your needs as a carer are met, both for your own sake, and for the person you care for. Caring can be a lonely and isolating experience, and maintaining outside interests and social networks helps to balance caring with your own needs.