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Support and help for carers

Are you caring for someone and finding it difficult to cope practically, physically or emotionally? Caring for someone as an ‘informal carer’ can be a very difficult task. Whether the person you care for is your partner, relative or close friend, you may have to juggle the caring responsibilities you have taken on with your own life, family and work commitments. But help is available, particularly from your local authority social services department who can carry out an assessment of your needs as a carer and, subject to the outcome of that assessment and available resources, provide some support to help you in your caring role.

The carer’s assessment

If you are caring for someone on a regular basis you are legally entitled to a carers’ assessment from your local authority. The assessment will give you the opportunity to discuss with the local authority what help you might need in your caring role to maintain your own health whilst balancing your caring with the stresses of your own life, family, work and other commitments. The assessment of your own needs will normally coincide with an assessment of the needs of the person you are caring for. But if not, an assessment of your needs as a carer can be requested at any time, even if the person you are caring for does not wish for an assessment themselves. Once asked to carry out a carer’s assessment the local authority should do so within what is considered a ‘reasonable time’, although there is no statutory time limit.

What’s included in the carer’s assessment?

The carer’s assessment covers a number of areas in order to explore your needs:

Your housing

Do you and the person you care for live together or separately? What are the effects of this and are any changes needed to improve the arrangement?

Your health

Are you finding it difficult to cope either emotionally or physically, and what impact might this have on your own physical or mental health?

Your work and leisure

What support or help do you need to balance your caring role with your work and family commitments, and what impact is it having on your leisure time?

The time you spend on caring duties

How much time do you spend caring – is it just during the day or night, or both? What is the caring role that you are fulfilling; what do you see as needed; and are you getting any help?

Your feelings

Do you feel you have a choice about the care you are providing? And do you feel it is just too difficult to carry on without some help?

Dealing with emergencies

What if any alternative arrangements are in place if you suddenly became ill and were unable to continue providing the care either short-term or long-term?

The future

Do you have any concerns or worries about your own future or the future of the person you are caring for?

The support you may get following an assessment

The assessment may identify services for the person you care for, in order to ease your role. For example, access to a day centre or periods of respite care in a care home, to give you a break from caring. There may be home adaptations or disability equipment that could be provided to improve access to your home or help with lifting or bathing. You may also benefit from advice and information, for example financial or benefits advice, both for you and the person you are caring for.
Any help or support you are assessed as needing from the local authority can either be delivered directly by them or funded by them through direct payments to you, for you to spend on the services you’ve been assessed as needing.

What will I have to pay for the assessment and the support I need?

There is no charge for the carer’s assessment and this is a legal right. However, if it is decided you are eligible for help and support you can be means tested for services provide only to you. If the services are for the person you care for, they are likely to be means tested. Means testing will ascertain to what extent you or they can afford to contribute towards the costs of delivering the services you each need.

Is there any other support that might be available to me? Financial Support

There may be some financial support available to you in the form of Carer’s Allowance of £59.75 a week (£61.35 from April 2014), paid by the Department for Work and Pensions to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs.

  • You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for;
  • You must be 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them;
  • You must be in Great Britain when you claim and have been so for at least 2 of the last 3 years;
  • Carer’s Allowance is taxable. It can also affect your other benefits .

To find out more about Carer’s Allowance visit https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/overview

Other Support

Check out local charities or older people’s organisations that may have volunteers that can help you or provide befriending services to the person you are caring for that will give you a break.

There may be benevolent societies that can offer you grants to assist with the cost. Visit FirstStop partner www.turn2us.org.uk for help finding grants.

To find out about handling managing the money of the person you are caring for click here or see our factsheet Arrangements for making decisions for other people.

More about caring

To find out more about your rights as a carer and help and support available:

To understand your housing and care options, and to find out more about your own rights and the rights of the person who you are caring for, click here to read more on this website, or call our Advice Line on 0800 377 70 70 to speak to a FirstStop Adviser about your own particular circumstances.