Carer's assessment

What is a carer's assessment?

A carer's assessment is a chance to discuss your needs with your local council. The assessment is free and your local council will use it to decide what support to give you.
Don’t be put off by the word ‘assessment’.  It is not a test about how good you are at caring. It is to work out what can be done to make life easier for you.  No one will judge you.
The assessment is usually a face to face meeting with someone from your local council, or from another organisation on behalf of your local council.

What does a carer’s assessment cover?

You can talk about anything during your assessment but you might find it helpful to think about:
  • what caring tasks you do and how you feel about doing them
  • your relationship with the person you care for
  • if you get enough time for yourself - for example time to get out and about, meet other people and take part in leisure activities
  • how caring is affecting your mental and physical health
  • how caring is affecting your relationships with others 
  • how caring is affecting your education and work life 
  • whether the person you're caring for is getting enough help
  • how willing or able to you are to carry on caring
  • what would help make things easier for you
NHS Choices has helpful information about how to prepare for your assessment.

Who can have a carer’s assessment?

If you need support and you live in England, then you can simply ask for a carer’s assessment. It doesn’t matter:
  • what type of caring you do - for example, you may care for someone who needs emotional rather than practical support
  • how much caring you do - you don’t need to prove you care for a certain number of hours
  • what your income is, if you have savings or own your home
  • if you live with the person you care for, or not
In England your local council needs to provide a carer’s assessment to any adult who asks for one, or offer one to anyone who looks like they need support. Find out more about carers' rights and the Care Act on the NHS Choices website.
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the laws are different.  A key difference is that you need to provide regular and substantial care to have a carer’s assessment. There is no clear definition of exactly what this means but if you usually spend a lot of time caring for someone, or it has a big impact on your life, then you should ask for a carer’s assessment. 
In Wales the law will change from April 2016 so you will no longer have to provide regular and substantial care to have a carer’s assessment.  For more information see:

Young carers and young adult carers

If you are under 18 you have a different carer’s assessment from the adult carer’s assessment, but it still looks at what can be done to make caring easier for you. 
You can have a young carer’s transition assessment before your 18th birthday to help you find out what support you will be able to get. You should have this assessment when you are ready, for example when you are making decisions about your education or if something is making life difficult at home.
Young adult carers aged 18 or over can have an adult carer’s assessment.

Parent carers

If you are a parent of a disabled child aged under 18 your needs will be assessed at the same time as your child.  Your local council will look at your family as a whole but it is your chance to say what you need to make your caring role easier. 

How to ask for a carer’s assessment

You need to ask your local council for a carer’s assessment.  In some areas other organisations may carry out the assessment for the local council but you should still contact your local council to ask for one.
Find your local council on the website and get in touch with them to find out more.

What happens after the assessment?

Your local council will decide if you are entitled to support from them. There are national guidelines the local council must follow to decide what you are entitled to.  
If you are not entitled to help from the local council they must give you a written reason for their decision. Even if you don’t qualify for support the local council should give you information about other organisations that might be able to help you.
If you are entitled to help from the local council they will write a plan with you that sets out how your needs will be met. This could include getting help with housework, help with transport, or help with technology so you can keep in touch with family and friends.
The best way to help you might also be to help the person you care for.  For example, you might need a break and respite care may be the best way to do this.
For more information visit carers' assessments: what happens next on the NHS Choices website.

Who pays for the support?

Your local council must carry out a financial assessment to see what you can afford to pay.
As a carer you will not be charged for any services provided to the person you care for.
You will get a personal budget, which shows how much it costs to give you the support you need. It will include the amount you will pay, if any, and the amount the local council will pay.
You can also ask the local council to give you a direct payment. A direct payment is given to you (the carer) so you can arrange your own support. Find out more about direct payments and personal budgets on the NHS Choices website.
Rules about direct payments are a bit different in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Find out more about self-directed support in Scotland and direct payments in Northern Ireland.

How often should I have a carer’s assessment?

If your circumstances change you can ask for your assessment to be done again.  This is particularly important if you can no longer provide the same level of care you have done in the past or if the needs of the person you care for change.
Assessments are not routinely re-done so let your council know as soon as possible if your circumstances change.