A Complete Guide to Carers Assessment: Everything Family and Carers Need to Know

If you care for another adult, such as an elderly or disabled parent, then you probably qualify for a carers’ assessment. This is to determine what support you may need from your local council in order to continue with the caregiving role. A carers’ assessment gives you a chance to record the impact of the caring role on your wellbeing – physically, mentally and emotionally. This can determine if you can continue caring with help or if another solution is needed, such as moving your loved one into a residential care home.

Are you eligible?

Any carer who feels they need support is entitled to a carers’ assessment from their local council. This is irrespective of how much care you give, or the type of care. It’s also not related to your financial means, and applies whether you are working or not. You may live with the person being cared for, or you may not.

You can get a carers’ assessment even if your loved one hasn’t had a care needs assessment or if the local council has decided that they aren’t eligible for support.

How do I get a carers’ assessment?

You may be offered a carers’ assessment by social services. If not, you can ask for one. Contact the adult social services department of the local council of the person you’re caring for.

What happens during a carers’ assessment?

Different people carry out carers’ assessments, including charities and care organisations, as well as social services themselves. These are generally based on 3 criteria:

the 3 criteria of the care act 2014
Image source: scie.org

The assessment may be done on the phone, online or in person. You may also need to fill in questionnaires.

The assessment will look at the role you play in caring for your loved one and, specifically, how this impacts your wellbeing physically, mentally and emotionally. They will explore how you feel about caring and how it fits into your life, around work, family, study and leisure time. You may be asked questions about how it affects your relationships, housing, social activities and more. You should also be asked about the plans in place for if there is an emergency with you or your loved one.

Be honest and open; this is about getting the support you need.

How does the council decide whether or not I will get support?

The council uses your carers’ assessment to see if you meet the eligibility criteria for supportive services and potentially direct payments, to help you continue caring. These are dubbed ‘eligible needs’.

The council measures your eligibility against three broad questions:

  1. Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
  2. Does your caring role have an effect on you?
  3. Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?

Your assessment needs to show that you answer ‘yes’ to all three of these to get support.

What help can I get following a carers’ assessment?

If the council determines that you don’t have eligible needs then unfortunately you won’t qualify for help. They should tell you their decision in writing explaining why and you should also be given information about how to reduce your needs both now and in the future.

This doesn’t mean you can’t choose to get more support independently. This is often when choosing to move your loved one to high-quality residential care is the best decision for both you and the person you are currently caring for.

If the council determines that you do have eligible needs then the council now has a legal obligation to meet those needs and will draw up a plan to establish how your needs will be met. Services may be provided directly or you may be able to ask for direct payments so that you can buy-in the support you need.

There are variations between councils in terms of funding and how financial assessments are done. Ask your council for further information. Most councils don’t charge for carers support, but do check.

Help that may be available from your council following a carers’ assessment includes:

  • Support with transport costs e.g. taxis or paying for the costs associated with using a car to care for your loved one.
  • Help in the home such as cleaning or gardening.
  • Technological support.
  • Support to improve your emotional health, such as gym membership.

In addition, it may be possible to get help for your loved one, through your carers’ assessment, such as:

  • Home adaptations to make it easier for you to care for them, or them to care for themselves.
  • Assistive equipment such as hoists.
  • Carers, respite care and day centre care.
  • Meal provision.
  • Laundry services.

What are the alternatives?

You don’t have to have a carers’ assessment but it can be worthwhile to see what help might be available. However, if you aren’t found to have eligible needs, don’t feel disheartened. The threshold is often very high for determining eligible needs, largely because of resource shortages. You may not meet the criteria for it but that doesn’t mean that caring isn’t hard, complex and having an impact on your life and wellbeing.

Often, it is at this point that families may need to reconsider the care being provided to the person being cared for. It may be that the individual’s care needs have grown or your capacity to provide care has reduced, or both. This is a very common scenario, especially with elderly people.

It can be time to review the care being given and how it is provided. Moving a loved one into a residential care home is a big step, but it can often be the solution you need. The negative impacts of the caring role on you are reduced and the cared-for individual has their needs better met too. It is impossible for an individual family carer to provide the same level of care across the board as a care home, and there is no shame in admitting that. Indeed, we often find that not only does the wellbeing of both the carer and the cared-for improve following a move, but the relationship between the two improves also.

If you are struggling with the care of a loved one, consider all of your options, including residential care. For residential care homes and nursing homes in the South West, find out more with Eastleigh.