If you're a carer and need practical support to look after the person you care for, you may qualify for help from social care services. To get this support, you can have a carer’s assessment.
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If you’re providing regular care for someone with a terminal illness, or planning to provide this care, you may need some practical support. This could include having things like:
- Breaks for you from caring – sometimes called respite breaks. This might allow you to work, have some time to yourself, or spend time with your family
- A professional carer to help the person you’re caring for with personal tasks, such as dressing or washing
- Adaptations or equipment for your home
- Information and support, such as details of a local carers’ support group.
To get this support, you usually need to have a carer’s assessment.
Sometimes a health or social care professional will suggest that you have a carer’s assessment. You can also ask for a carer’s assessment yourself if you feel you need more support looking after someone. You need to contact the relevant council or trust:
- In England and Wales, GOV.UK has a database to find your local council
- In Scotland, Care Information Scotland has a map to find your social work department
- In Northern Ireland, Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland has information about your local health and social care trust.
The assessment is carried out by your local social care or social work department, or by your health and social care trust in Northern Ireland.
You’re likely to be assessed by a care manager, a trained assessor or healthcare professional. They will talk to you about your needs and their impact on your wellbeing. Your assessment may take place at home or over the phone.
The assessment is your chance to explain how caring affects you, if you are still willing to continue with your caring role, and what help you need to do it. You may find it helpful to keep a diary of what care you provide on a daily basis, so you can give your assessor an accurate picture of what you do.
The assessment will look at:
- how long you’ve been caring for
- whether you are able to provide care
- how many hours a week you provide care
- whether you’re going to be able to continue providing care
- how caring is affecting you and your family physically and emotionally, and the impact this has on your wellbeing
- what will help you continue with things that are important to you, such as your work, education, relationships and social activities.
After the assessment, your social care department will decide if you’re eligible for services. It could be things that directly support you as the carer (eg breaks from caring) or that help the person you care for (eg home adaptations). Your social care department must involve you in creating a plan for how you will be supported. You can request a written copy of your care plan.
You’ll be given information about any services and support that the social care department (or social work department in Scotland) can give you. This can vary depending on where you live in the UK.
At a minimum, social care must provide all carers, including those not eligible for support, with information and advice on local services to prevent your needs from increasing.
If you are receiving benefits as a result of your carer’s assessment and there is a change in your circumstances, you need to report it. You should also report it if you gave incorrect information by mistake. Visit GOV.UK for more information.
Your social care department might pay for or contribute to the costs of your social care, but you may have to pay for or contribute to the costs. This will depend on your financial situation (if services are provided to you) or on the financial situation of the person you care for (if services are provided to them). It also depends on where you live.
Government guidance recommends that councils carefully consider whether they should charge for carer’s support, in recognition of the valuable contribution that carers make to society.
As part of your support plan, you are entitled to receive a personal budget, which is a statement of the overall cost of meeting your needs. This includes the amount the local council is going to pay and the amount you will pay.
You are entitled to request some or all of the personal budget as direct payments and you can then pay for the support. This gives you control over how your support is provided and flexibility on arranging it.
For more information and support about this, contact Carers UK
If you’re a carer, you may be able to get direct payments to help you arrange and pay for services or products that would help you, instead of receiving them directly from your health and social care trust. A statutory social worker will need to assess you to decide whether you are eligible for direct payments. To get expert advice and information on direct payments and personal budgets, contact Carers Northern Ireland .
Councils in Scotland do not have to offer services. But, if they do, you should be offered self-directed support. This allows you to choose how you want your services arranged. Visit Self-directed Support Scotland to find out more.
Social care in Wales must offer direct payments to everyone, including carers, who want them and are eligible for them. These are payments given instead of social care services and are intended to enable individuals to buy the care that they need from social care providers. This can be a private provider or you can ask your local council to arrange care services on your behalf.
If you’re not happy with the assessment, tell the council (or health and social care trust in Northern Ireland). You can ask for another assessment if you think it’s necessary.
If things can’t be resolved informally, ask for details of the council’s complaints procedure and make a formal complaint. If you are unhappy with the way your complaint is handled by the council, you can complain to an Ombudsman. This is someone who looks into complaints. They are impartial – they are not part of the organisation you complain about. Here are the Ombudsmen you can contact depending on where you live:
About this information
Marie Curie's Information and Support team has produced this information with help from:
- Director of Corporate Services, Marie Curie
- Disability Rights UK
- Our Readers Panel volunteers.
This information is not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.
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