Assessments and the Care Act (Carers)

Stage 1: Assessing your support needs
What is a carer’s assessment?
A carer’s assessment is for adult carers of adults (over 18 years) who are disabled, ill or elderly. It is an opportunity to discuss with your local council what support or services you need. The assessment will look at how caring affects your life, including for example, physical, mental and emotional needs, and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring.Who can have a carer’s assessment?
Any carer who appears to have needs for support should be offered an assessment by social services.As a carer you will be entitled to an assessment regardless of the amount or type of care you provide, your financial means or your level of need for support. You can have an assessment whether or not the person you care for has had a community care assessment/needs assessment, or if the local council have decided they are not eligible for support.
If you and the person you care for agree, a combined assessment of both your needs can be undertaken at the same time.
If you are sharing caring responsibilities with another person, or more than one person, including a child under 18, you can each have a carer’s assessment. You don’t necessarily have to live with the person you are looking after or be caring full-time to have a carer’s assessment. You may be juggling work and care and this is having a big impact on your life.
How do you get a carer’s assessment?
As a carer you should be offered an assessment by the local council adult social services department of the person you are looking after. If you have not been offered one, you should contact them by phone, in writing or on-line, and ask for a carer’s assessment or for a review of your support plan. If you want to, you can ask for an assessment before you take up your caring role.
Assessments for carers
Factsheet E1029 Assessments and the Care Act: getting help in England from April 2015
How do you prepare for a carer’s assessment?
In preparation for your assessment, it is useful to give yourself some time to think about how caring affects you. It’s also important to start thinking about any help that would make a difference to you as a carer. This will help when you discuss things that social services have to consider when doing a carer’s assessment. For a list of questions which should give you a clear idea of the
help you may need, see the appendix on page 26. Bear in mind that you might not know about all the types of help that could
be available, the assessment is to help the council understand what things you are having problems with. Social services must give you information about the assessment in advance – for example a list of the questions they will ask. They may give you a form to
write down your thoughts to these questions before the carer’s assessment. Often this is referred to as a self-assessment questionnaire. Alternatively you may find it helpful to write some notes for yourself, and talk to family or
friends to help you think about your needs. How is the carer’s assessment carried out? The law says that all assessments must be carried out in a manner which:
> is appropriate and proportionate to your needs and circumstances
> ensures that you are able to participate effectively in the assessment
> has regard to your choices, wishes and the outcomes you want to achieve
> takes account of the level and severity of your needs
If the assessment involves a meeting, it should be carried out in a convenient and private place, usually at your home or at a council office. Meetings are likely to be part of the process if the person you care for is having an assessment as well. It is your choice about whether the person you care for is present or not. If it helps, you can have a family member, a friend or a Carers Support Worker from a carers organisation with you. Assessments can be done over the phone or online, but this should only happen if you agree. If you think you can easily express your needs over the phone or online then this method may be the right one for you. Online or telephone assessments are unlikely to ever be appropriate for people who lack capacity or have difficulties with communication. Your council may carry out a supported self-assessment. This could involve you filling in a self- assessment questionnaire, and then being contacted by the council to discuss what you have written on the form.
For carers
Factsheet E1029 Assessments and the Care Act: getting help in England from April 2015
In some areas, local organisations may be asked to carry out the assessment, but arrangements should still be made through your local council and they should explain who will carry out the assessment. The assessment should be carried out by a social worker or another trained professional. The assessment will consider whether or not your caring role impacts on your health or prevents you from achieving outcomes, for example staying in work or having a social life, and what could be done to help you combine these
things with caring. It should cover:
> your caring role and how it affects your life and wellbeing
> your health – physical, mental and emotional issues
> your feelings and choices about caring
> work, study, training, leisure
> relationships, social activities and your goals
> housing
> planning for emergencies (such as a Carer Emergency Scheme) – the local council should be able to tell you more about what they can do to help you plan for an emergency You should be asked about these issues, if not you can raise them yourself. The aim of the assessment is to help you get the support that you need. So it’s best to give your honest opinion about your caring role, the care you
provide and your feelings about being a carer. Remember to look at the list of questions in the appendix on page 26 of this factsheet.
Independent advocate The council must provide you with an independent advocate to assist you in the assessment process (and after) if: without support you would have ‘substantial difficulty’ in communicating your wishes, or understanding, retaining and assessing information during the assessment and there is no other appropriate person who is able and willing to help you
For carers
Factsheet E1029 Assessments and the Care Act: getting help in England from April 2015
Stage 2 – Looking at whether your needs are eligible for support
How will the local council decide if my needs as a carer are eligible for their support?
The Care Act introduces national rules for deciding who is eligible for car and support. But it will still be for local councils to make the decision about whether or not your needs meet the rules and so whether you have what the law calls eligible needs.
You will meet the eligibility criteria if there is likely to be a significant impact on your wellbeing as a result of you caring for another person. There are three questions the council will have to consider in making their decision:
> Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
> Does your caring role have an effect on you?
> Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?
If the answer to all three questions is yes, then you will have eligible needs. These questions are explained in more detail below.
Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care? The council could decide that the care you provide is not necessary, that the cared for person could do the things you do themselves. Or they could decide that your needs or problems are the result of something other than your caring role. Does your caring role have an effect on you? The effect on you must be either:
your physical or mental health is at risk of getting worse,or you are unable to achieve at least one of the following outcomes:
• look after any children you have responsibilities for
• provide care to any other person
• maintain your home in a fit and proper state
• eat properly and maintain proper nutrition
• maintain and develop your relationships with family and friends
• take part in any education, training, work or volunteering you may wish to
• time for social activities, hobbies etc.
For carers
Factsheet E1029 Assessments and the Care Act: getting help in England from April 2015
In considering whether or not you can achieve the above outcomes, the law states that the council must take into account any difficulties you have. You will be considered unable to achieve the outcome if you:
> need assistance to achieve the outcome
> can achieve the outcome unaided but experience pain, distress or anxiety
> can achieve the outcome unaided but doing so endangers, or may endanger your or another person’s health and safety Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing? ‘Wellbeing’ is defined in the Care Act. The definition is very broad and includes things like social and economic wellbeing, personal dignity, control over your day to day life, participation in education, work or social activities, relationships with other people, having suitable accommodation, protection from abuse and neglect. ‘Significant’ is not defined in law, and so should be given its everyday normal meaning. If you think the effect on you is noticeable or important, this could count as significant. Although the Care Act does not define what counts as a significant impact on
your wellbeing , it does list a number of things that the council must take into account when considering the issue. These are:
> you are best-placed to judge your wellbeing
> your views, wishes, feelings and beliefs should be taken in to account
> the importance of reducing existing needs, and preventing or delaying the development of needs
> decisions should be based on your circumstances, not assumptions about you
> you should be able to participate as fully as possible in decision making
> the needs of the carer and cared for person need to be balanced
> the need to protect people from abuse and neglect
> any restrictions on rights or freedoms should be kept to the minimum
If your level of need varies the local council must take this into consideration
so that a full picture of your level of need is developed. The reason for the
variation is not important, it can be because the condition of the person you
care for fluctuates from day to day or week to week, or because you have
other responsibilities that can affect you from time to time.
For carers
Factsheet E1029 Assessments and the Care Act: getting help in England from April 2015
Stage 3 – What help you might get after a decision about your needs
Information and advice Everyone, including those whose needs are considered not to be eligible for
support must receive information and advice from the local council on the following:
> details of the needs that have been identified
> how to access care and support
> the care providers and services they can choose from in their locality
> how to obtain financial advice
> how to raise concerns about safeguarding, ie what to do if you are worried that a vulnerable person is at risk of harm or neglect
> how to access preventative services that could delay or prevent your needs from increasing If the decision is that you are not eligible for care and support, advice and information may be all you receive from your local council. This advice and information should be relevant to your specific circumstances and the local area you live in. It could for example include information about a local carers
support service.
Support plan
If your local council decides that your needs are eligible, then providing you want them to, they must draw up a support plan detailing how these needs will be met. If you have eligible care needs, then providing you want them to, the local council have a legal obligation to meet these needs. It may be agreed that the best way to help you as a carer is by providing services directly to you, by
providing services to the person you care for, or a combination of both. The local council can provide services themselves, or arrange services through another organisation. Alternatively, you or the person you care for can request direct payments, which are payments which enable you to buy services to meet your eligible needs. For more information on direct payments visit
Your local council may or may not charge you for carers services, most councils do not. If they do, they must carry out a financial assessment to work out whether you have to make a contribution and if so, how much. If the help you are offered is free, the council do not have to carry out a financial assessment.
For carers
Factsheet E1029 Assessments and the Care Act: getting help in England from April 2015
If your local council do charge you for services and the outcome of your financial assessment is that you will have to pay the full charge, then the local council only needs to draw up a support plan and meet your needs, if you ask them too. The local council can then issue an additional charge for this. The support plan must include:
> details of the needs identified in the assessment
> which needs meet the eligibility criteria
> which needs the council is going to meet, and how
> the outcomes that you want to achieve
> information about the personal budget available (the amount of money that the local council has worked out it will cost to arrange the necessary care and support for you)
> information and advice to support you in your role as a carer and
address your needs
> information about direct payments Some examples of the kind of help that could be available to you as a carer if you are eligible for support:
> help getting around: taxi fares, driving lessons, repairs and insurance
> costs for a car where transport was crucial
> technology to support you: mobile phone, computer where it is not possible to access computer services from a local library
> help with housework or gardening
> help to relieve stress, improve health and promote wellbeing such as gym membership Some examples of the kind of help that could be available to the person you care for, in order to help you as a carer:
> changes to the disabled person’s home to make it more suitable
> equipment such as a hoist or grab rail
> a care worker to help provide personal care at home
> a temporary stay in residential care/respite care
> meals delivered to the disabled person’s home
>a place at a day centre
> assistance with travel, for example to get to a day centre
> laundry services
> replacement care so you can have a break