Carers have a legal right, under statutory law to an assessment of their needs. This is your chance to discuss with social services what help you need with caring. You can also discuss any help that would maintain your own health and balance caring with other aspects of your life, like work and family. Social services use the assessment to decide what help to provide you with.
What is the purpose of a carer’s assessment?
The person carrying out the assessment shouldn’t assume you want to take on a caring role or continue caring. They should ask if you are able and willing to carry out the tasks involved. For instance, you may find it hard to move someone in a wheelchair due to your own health problems or you may suffer from stress in coping with the challenging behaviour of the person you care for. You still care about the person you look after, but you may no longer be
able to care for them physically and mentally.
As well as looking at the help you need, the assessment can be useful in:
- Exploring how you feel about caring with a professional
- Giving you information on benefits and support that is available to you such as carers groups.
- Deciding if you want to stay or return to work and how to make this possible.
- Looking at how caring may affect you in the future and what help you might need.
How do I get an assessment?
You may be offered a carer’s assessment by your social services department. If not, you can ask for one.
You can also ask your GP or district nurse to contact social services for you.
What will happen at the assessment?
Usually a social worker or a member of social services will carry out the assessment. A meeting may also be needed with your GP or nurse if a lot of care is required.
The quality of carers’ assessments can vary, with some workers having a good understanding of how to help carers, but this is not always the case. It is important the social worker is aware of your situation. You are entitled to have a friend or advocate present at the assessment.
If you feel certain aspects of your caring role were not fully covered during your assessment, you may contact the social worker and arrange a follow up visit. This is quite common – people’s lives are often complex and it can be tough to talk about difficult issues regarding close relationships.
The social worker should explore with you the various support and services available to help you to look after the person you care for. Social services can give help and support directly to you, or give help directly to the person you care for.
If your caring situation is likely to continue for at least the foreseeable future, the social worker should set a date to review your needs and see if the help provided is working out. This is usually at least on an annual basis and more frequently if you are new to caring and your situation is complex.
What will after the assessment?
It is important that you are able to make an informed choice about how much you do (or want to take on in the future) as a carer. When social services decide what help and services to provide, they have to take into account the results of both your carer’s assessment and the community care assessment of the person you care for. They will summarise this in a care plan for the person you look after – a copy will be given to both of you.
Local authorities are required to set out how they make decisions about whether or not to provide services. These are termed eligibility criteria. The needs identified in the assessments are compared against their eligibility criteria. If the needs of the person that you look after match these eligibility criteria, the local authority must provide services to meet their needs.