Working as a carer is a very demanding job. Taking care of someone full time or even part time can take up a huge part of your life and sometimes cause you to neglect your own needs.
It’s important to find ways to look after yourself too. Luckily, many resources are available to help provide support for carers, particularly if you choose to complete a carer’s assessment.
In this article, we explain what a carer’s assessment is and which resources you might be able to access to help you complete one. We also list some other support you might be able to apply for without needing a carer’s assessment.
Do I count as a carer?
You’re considered a carer if you regularly look after someone who is elderly, disabled or ill (both family and non-family count). The help you provide them with can include:
- Cooking, cleaning, shopping and laundry
- Transporting them to doctor’s appointments, the shops, or just out and about
- Washing or dressing them
- Helping them take medicine
- Organising their finances or helping them pay their bills
- Keeping them company or watching over them if they can’t be left alone
If you provide any of these services to someone on a regular basis then you are likely eligible for a carer’s assessment.
What is a carer’s assessment?
If you work as a carer either full or part time and feel as though you could use some support then you are entitled to a free carer’s assessment from your local council (in Scotland it is also sometimes called an Adult Carer’s Support Plan). This is a meeting with a social worker, either in person, online or over the phone, to discuss your role as a carer and address your concerns. It’s a chance to bring up your needs, the needs of the person you are caring for, and any disruption that your role as a carer may be causing in your own life.
You can bring a friend or relative to the assessment for support if you like, but you don’t need to bring the person you are caring for. The meeting is intended to be about you.
Before the meeting, make a note of anything specific that you would like to bring up or feel that you are struggling with. Potential issues might include:
- Are you getting enough sleep? Is your role as a carer affecting this?
- Is your mental health suffering from your role as a carer?
- Are you finding enough time to relax and enjoy your own life?
- Do you also have children to take care of? Are you able to dedicate enough time to both them and the person in your care?
- Are you keeping up with household chores and other day-to-day responsibilities or are they starting to get overwhelming?
- Is your work as a carer affecting your health?
- Is your work as a carer affecting your relationships?
- If you have another job, is your work as a carer affecting this?
- What would happen to the person in your care if you became sick or had an emergency?
The assessment usually lasts for at least an hour. The care worker will look at how your responsibilities as a carer are affecting your physical and mental health, relationships, and general day-to-day life.
Within a week of the assessment, you will hear back from the council about whether you qualify for support. If you do qualify then social services will then create a plan for you (and the person you are caring for, if necessary).
If you aren’t eligible for support then you are still entitled to advice and information on charities and other organisations that you can contact for help.
Will I be charged for any help I receive?
You may or may not be charged for some of the support services that you’re offered, but most councils won’t charge you. If yours does, you’ll first undergo a financial assessment to see whether you can afford to make a contribution. Any funding you receive can either be sent to you to pay for the services yourself or the council can arrange them instead (bear in mind that if you decide to do so yourself then you’ll have to keep detailed records of all the payments made using these funds, to prove they’re going towards your support).
What sort of support might I be offered after my carer’s assessment?
If you qualify for support then your council may be able to provide you with some of the following:
- Someone to take over your role so you can have a break
- Gym membership or exercise class to relieve stress
- Help with transport fares for your caring duties
- Assistance with housework (for example gardeners or cleaners)
- Access to local support groups or counselling
- Advice on applying for benefits for carers
How do I get a carer’s assessment?
In England, Scotland or Wales, you can ask for a carer’s assessment by contacting adult’s social services at your local council. You can find your local council’s website at GOV.uk, then navigate to the social services or carers support section.
If you’re a parent carer (ie. the parent of a child with special needs), you’ll need to contact the children with disabilities department.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can ask by contacting the Health and Social Care Trust of the person you’re caring for.
What do I need for a carer’s assessment?
You’ll need the following information to apply for a carer’s assessment:
- Your NHS number
- Your email address
- Your GP’s name, address and phone number
- The contact details of anyone accompanying you to the assessment
- The name, address, date of birth and NHS number of the person you care for
Is a carer’s assessment the same as a needs assessment?
A carer’s assessment is separate to a needs assessment, which is for the person that is being cared for. You can ask to have them both done at the same time though, as having more services for the person in your care might make things easier on you.
What other benefits can I access as a carer?
Even without a carer’s assessment, you may be able to claim a Carer’s Allowance if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and you both meet certain criteria. The weekly allowance is £67.60 in the 2021/2022 tax year. You can check whether you are eligible on GOV.uk.
If you are not in paid employment because of caring duties which amount to at least 20 hours a week then you can apply for Carer’s Credit – this will help fill gaps in your National Insurance record so that you can still claim your State Pension when you reach the qualifying age. Bear in mind that you cannot claim Carer’s Credit if you are also claiming Carer’s Allowance. However, unlike the Carer’s Allowance, it is not means-tested. You can read more and check your eligibility on GOV.uk.
For more information on the benefits you might be able to apply for as a carer, check out our article Carers: don’t miss out on benefits help.