What is a Carer's Assessment?
In short, a Carer's Assessment is your opportunity to tell social services about the things that could make caring easier for you.
Carers Assessments were first mentioned in the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995. Carers can ask for an assessment of their own needs when the person they are caring for is having an assessment, or re-assessment, of their needs. Two late Acts have superseded this Act, but the 1995 Act is the only one that does not restrict Carers Assessments according to age, meaning that young carers can have an assessment under this piece of legislation (see section on young carers' assessment below).
The way that you can get a Carer's Assessment will depend on your circumstances. The following section details the various circumstances that are possible and the pieces of legislation around them.
Carers and Disabled Children's Act 2000
This act of Parliament was promised in the Carers Strategy (1999) and made some important changes to assessment and services for carers. This Act gives carers the right to ask for an assessment of their own needs to help them to continue to care, irrespective of whether the person they are caring for has had or is having their own needs assessment. The assessment is available to any carer who provides or is intending to provide regular and substantial care (this is not clearly defined). The Carers and Disabled Act 2000 also allows, for the first time, Social Service Departments to provide services directly to carers, although whether or not you receive a service is up to the Social Services. Bear in mind also that if they provide you with a carers service local authority social service departments can charge you for that service, although many do not actually charge for services provided directly to carers.
To arrange for a carers assessment you should contact your local authority Social Services Department. All carers and the tasks they face are different and you may have ideas about the kind of services that would help you.
After assessment your local social services may be able to provide services, or suggest other agencies that give you a break, additional emotional support from other carers or people who understand, help with household tasks and your caring responsibilities, benefits advice and ideas for activities for the person you care for.
Carers Equal Opportunities Act 2004
This Act is the newest and was implemented in April 2005. It changes the previous act in a few important ways.
Firstly it places a duty on social services departments to inform carers of their right to an assessment. Secondly, when the assessment is carried out the purpose of it is not only to help the carer to continue to care, but should also include a discussion on their/your wish to start paid work or to continue to work, their/your wish for further education and their/your wish to engage in leisure pursuits. Thirdly carers and their needs have previously only been a duty for social service departments, but under this Act social service departments can ask other public bodies including local health organisations to provide services to carers; a request, which these bodies have to consider and make a reply.
You should feel free to talk about any of these during your assessment, but to get you started, here are some of the more common areas for discussion:
- if you are struggling to find any/enough time for yourself,
- whether you're able to get out and about,
- the affect caring is having on your health,
- how it's affecting your relationships with others,
- whether the person you're caring for is getting enough help,
- sources for additional help via local or national support organisations,
- and any employment concerns you may have
- different types of assessments
Here's a main overview of the different assessments and what they cover. For any other information you require, either use the contact details at the bottom of this page or you can contact your local social services directly.
Community Care Assessment (NHS and Community Care 1990)
This is describes the process when a social worker or other health or social care professional looks at the needs of somebody with an illness or disability and assesses what community care services are required to meet those needs (for instance a Day Centre place or care in the home). Many now use a "single assessment process" which is an assessment for the disabled person and their carers carried out by all the health and social care professionals involved in the situation.
Local authorities can make a charge for services provided after your community care assessment (which vary according to where you live), but this is subject to a means tested financial assessment. Most policies have a minimum (sometimes nothing) and maximum weekly charge.
The person receiving the services will be asked to complete financial assessment forms (or these may be completed by the social worker doing the assessment). Completing the forms is important, as if they are not the maximum charge will be payable. Depending on the level of income and the amount of services required, this might still be cheaper than paying for care privately.
It is important to note that whoever receives the service is who's income it gets assessed against.
Care Programme Approach Assessment (CPA) National Service Framework for Mental Health
Standard 6 states that where a carer is caring for a patient on an enhanced CPA (Care Programme Approach), the needs of the carer should be assessed, a written plan compiled and that this should be reviewed at least once a year.
Family Assessment (Children Act 1989)
In the case of a disabled child with special needs, the assessment should look at the family as a whole unit when considering appropriate services for the child and support for the parents (carers).
Young Carer's Assessment
Young people (aged under 18) who provide care to adult family members are also entitled to an assessment of their needs. This should normally be carried out by local Children's Department under the provisions of the Children's Act 1989. However in certain circumstances children aged 16 and 17 can have a carers assessment under the Carers and Disabled Children's Act 2000 or if under 16 in special circumstances under the Carers recognition and Services Act 1995. For more infomation, visit our young carer's website
Occupational Therapy Assessment
This looks at the needs of the person cared for, in their environment. It can result in the provision of aids and/or adaptations to the home in order to make life easier.
Health professionals (district nurses, physiotherapists etc.) will usually undertake their own assessment before starting treatment. We are more used to describing a Doctor's assessment of your health as an "appointment" or "consultation". Health Professionals will also be involved in the "single assessment" process.
Discharge from Hospital
Under the delayed Discharges Act 2003, if a patient is due for hospital discharge and the carer is concerned about how they will provide care in their home, they are now entitled to a home assessment, which includes the caring role. This assessment should determine the need for aids and adaptations and home care, the latter being provided free of charge for a 6 week trial period.