What do we mean when we say unpaid Carer?
A carer is anyone who provides unpaid care for a friend or family member who due to; illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
Providing unpaid care can have an impact on the Carer.
Carers can have a Carers Assessment of their own needs to help make sure they have enough support in their caring role.
What is a Carers Assessment?
A Carers Assessment is a focused conversation. It provides an important opportunity to help unpaid carers look at all aspects of their life in relation to their caring role.
The purpose of the Carers Assessment is to identify:
- the impact that their caring role is having on their own health and wellbeing
- the strengths that the Carer has
- areas where the Carer may need more guidance or support
- how best to provide advice and support
The Carers Assessment involves a confidential and sensitive conversation.
Discussing some of the aspects of being a Carer can bring up emotions that a Carer may work hard to manage day to day.
- The Carer should not feel rushed during the assessment.
- They should be in a private space where they feel comfortable and able to discuss the topics the assessment will focus on.
A Carers Assessment is expected to clearly reflect:
- the voice of the Carer, and
- their own unique experience of their caring role.
Who can have a Carers Assessment?
Carers Assessments are for anyone over the age of 18 who is looking after another adult (or other adults) over 18 and could not manage without support from a Carer because they have:
- A physical disability
- A learning disability
- Sensory impairment
- A mental health condition
- Substance dependency
- Is frail due to old age
Young carers and carers of children under 18 follow a different assessments process. The Carers UK website provides helpful information for those who provide care.
If you care for a child with a disability Hackney's Disabled Children’s Services can offer a Child and Family Needs Assessment (CAF).
If you are a Young Carer, Hackney Young Carers Service can provide advice and support.
What if you are not a full time Carer and are continuing to work?
A Carers Assessment looks at individual situations where unpaid care is being provided. It doesn’t matter:
- How much care the Carer provides
- What their existing financial situation is
- Whether or not they live with the person they are looking after
- Whether they are caring full or part time
- Whether or not the person being looked after has had an assessment of their needs
- Whether Hackney Council has decided that the person being care for is NOT eligible for extra support
What to consider if offered a Joint or Combined Assessment.
The Carer may be offered a joint or combined assessment. This means that an assessment of the needs of the Carer AND the support needs of the person they care for would take place at the same time.
Before agreeing to this the Carer should ask themselves the following questions.
- Will they be able to talk openly and honestly if the person they care for is present or close by?
- Will they feel able to truly focus on their own needs rather than the needs of the person they care for without separate dedicated time for their own Carers Assessment?
- Will there be enough space and time to be able to fully explore all the issues for the Carer?
These issues should include:
- the impact the caring role is having on their own health & wellbeing, and
- identifying possible interventions to help ease some of the pressures.
If the answers to any of these questions is NO, the Carer should request a full separate Carers Assessment, to which they are entitled.
What if the Carer is sharing caring responsibilities?
If the Carer is sharing caring responsibilities with another person, or more than one person, including a child under 18, then each person providing care can have an assessment.
What are the duties to Carers placed on local authorities through the Care Act?
It is a legal duty for local authorities to offer a free Carer’s Assessment, if it appears that the Carer may have any level of needs for support, irrespective of whether the council believes the Carer has eligible needs.
The council must not presume that individuals are willing or able to take up or continue in caring roles.
How to request a Carers Assessment?
The local authority where the person being looked after lives is responsible for carrying out the Carers Assessment.
If the person being looked after lives in Hackney and is known to Hackney Adult Social Services then they should be offering the Carer a Carers Assessment.
If the person being looked after lives in Hackney and the Carer has not been offered a Carers Assessment the Carer can request an assessment through one of the following services.
- The Social Worker allocated to the person they look after to say you are requesting a Carers assessment.
- If there is no allocated Social Worker contact Hackney’s Adult Information & Access Team: 020 8356 6262 or email@example.com
- Carers First who can; help prepare the Carer for their Carers Assessment, request a Carers Assessment from Hackney Adult Social Services on behalf of the carer.
Phone: 0300 303 1555
What happens during the Carers Assessment?
The aim of the assessment is to help the Carer get the support that they need. It is best for them to give as honest as possible an opinion about their caring role, the care they provide and their feelings about being a Carer.
During the assessment the Carer should be asked about all of the following issues:
- their caring role and how it affects their life and wellbeing
- their health – physical, mental and emotional
- their feelings and choices about caring
- Work, study, training, leisure
- Relationships, social activities and their goals
- Finances - including any debt
- Planning for emergencies.
It is always wise for carers to prepare for the assessment. Allow time to consider what you hope to achieve from going through the process.
If a Carer is NOT asked about all of the issues listed above they should prompt the assessor or raise the issue themselves during the assessment.
What happens first after the Carers Assessment meeting or meetings?
Always remember that the Carers Assessment process and the written part of the assessment is for and about the carer.
Once the worker has written up the Carers Assessment they should send a written copy of the assessment to the Carer to check the worker has reflected the conversation fully and accurately.
Any changes requested by the Carer should be made by the worker at this point.
Once changes are made the Carer should be sent a copy of the final assessment report. If this is not offered then the Carer should request a final copy.
How can a Carer plan for emergencies?
In Hackney, Carers can create a ‘What If Plan’. This can, with their permission, be held by the local authority. The plan can either be completed as part of the Carers Assessment process or the worker who is carrying out the assessment can link the Carer in with Carers First (Hackney’s commissioned carers service) who can help think through and make a record of their “What If Plan”.
Where to find more information on Carers Assessments, Support Plans and possible outcomes?
You can find more helpful information on the Carers UK’s website including:
- What to expect from a Carers Assessment
- How to prepare for a Carers Assessment
- Deciding if a Carer has eligible needs
- Possible outcomes of a Carers Assessment