If you provide care and support to an adult friend or family member, you may be eligible for support from your local council. The support you get is decided through an assessment. This assessment looks at your caring situation and what support you might need.
Local councils have a legal duty to assess any carer who requests an assessment – regardless of the amount of care you provide, your caring needs, your finances, or whether or not the person you care for has had a needs assessment from the local council.
How do I get an assessment?
You should be offered an assessment by your local council. If you haven’t been offered an assessment, simply contact your local council and ask for one. The local council might not provide your assessment directly but they’ll arrange it for you and tell you when and where it will happen. It could happen in your home, at a council office, or even over the phone. You can choose whether or not to have the person you care for present.
Preparing for your assessment
It’s a good idea to think about your role as a carer and write your thoughts down before the assessment. The NHS recommends that you think about:
- whether you want to continue being a carer
- if you were prepared to continue, what changes would make your life easier
- if there is any risk that you will not be able to continue as a carer without support
- whether you have any physical or mental health problems, including stress or depression, which make your role as a carer more difficult
- whether being a carer affects your relationships with other people, including family and friends
- if you are in paid work, whether being a carer causes problems at your work (such as often being late)
- if you would like more time to yourself so that you can have a rest or enjoy some leisure activity
- if you would like to do some training, voluntary work or paid work
What happens in the assessment?
The person carrying out the assessment will ask you about:
- your caring responsibilities and the impact that caring is having on your life – your work, your relationships, your ability to go out and do the things you enjoy, and so on
- your physical, mental and emotional health
- how you feel about caring
The carer’s assessment focuses on you and your needs. It’s important to be honest about the way you’re feeling and how caring is actually affecting you. The assessor won’t judge you for feeling the way you do – they’ve met many carers before facing similar struggles.
The council will be looking at what help you might need to carry on caring, but they will also be looking at whether it is sustainable for you to carry on caring. You have the right to choose whether or not to be a carer at all, and how much care you are willing to provide.
You might feel a duty to the person you care for, so discussing your willingness to care might feel like a sensitive area. You may feel like there is nobody else who can provide the care and support that the person you care for needs. But you’ll be surprised by the range of help and support that is out there, and the expertise that can be found. Sharing your caring duties may be the best way of making sure that you can continue to care effectively in the long term.
How does the council decide if I’m eligible for support?
The council needs to assess what support you need. Among your needs, not all will be the kind of needs that makes you eligible for support. “Eligible needs” have to fulfil certain criteria:
- Your needs have to be the result of providing care that is necessary. If you find yourself struggling for time or money because you are helping someone do a task that they could do themselves, or your state of wellbeing is a result of other factors in your life instead of your caring role, you won’t be eligible for support.
- Your caring role has to have an effect on you, meaning:
- Your physical or mental health is at risk of getting worse, or
- You’re unable to do any one of the following:
- Eat properly
- Maintain relationships with family and friends
- Look after any children you’re responsible for
- Take part in education, training, volunteering or work that you want to do
- Provide care to another person
- Enjoy social activities or hobbies
- By “unable”, you either need assistance to achieve the outcomes above, or you would experience pain, distress, anxiety, or endanger your health and safety if you didn’t do any of the above.
- There has to be a significant impact on your wellbeing. Wellbeing is a broad term that covers your relationships, control over day to day life, dignity, protection from abuse and neglect, and access to work or social activities, among other things.
What support might I get?
Everyone will get information from the local council, regardless of whether or not you have needs that count as “eligible”. The local council might tell you what other organisations can offer you support, or point you in the direction of local carers’ groups.
If the council staff decides you have some eligible needs that they need to meet, they will draw up a support plan with you. The support plan sets out how your needs will be met. This can include things to directly help you:
- Help with housework
- Membership of a gym
- Help getting around
- Technology to help you communicate, such as a mobile phone or laptop
It can also include things that will help the person you care for and make your caring role easier:
- Equipment or modifications to their home
- A care worker to help with daily tasks at home
- Meal delivery
- Assistance with travel
- Replacement care to give you a break
- A place in a day centre or a temporary stay in a care home to give you a break
Will it cost me money?
The local council might charge you for the services they provide to you. It will never charge you for services it provides to the person you care for, even if it also benefits you by making your caring role easier.
If the council does charge you money, it will be based on your financial situation so that you can afford to pay. The council will therefore have to carry out a financial assessment to work out how much to charge you.
What happens next?
The council will work with you to draw up a support plan that sets out how it will meet your needs. For more information on support plans, click here.
You can choose to leave the local council to arrange your services, or you can receive the personal budget yourself and decide what to do with it. You’ll still have the use the money to meet your eligible needs or you’ll have to reimburse the local council.
The support plan includes a personal budget. This sets out:
- How much the services you are eligible for will cost
- How much of this the council will pay
- How much of this you will need to pay
For more information on personal budgets, click here.
If the council assessor has decided that the person you care for may need support to make caring easier for you, they will arrange a financial assessment for them to decide how much the person you care for will have to pay.