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Assessment process for carers under the Care Act

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F28

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have recently launched their new ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ partnerships with a number of national charities, of which Disability Rights UK is one. This involves Disability Rights UK gathering feedback from disabled people about their experiences of using health and social care services. The CQC would welcome feedback on your experience of using any of the services they regulate. Please click here to do so.

The Care Act – Carers’ rights

From April 2015, the new Care Act legislation has implemented new changes to the current social care system in England. One of these changes is the concept of ‘meeting needs’ that has now become a core legal duty. For the first time, carers are recognized in the law in the same way as those they care for. These changes mean that more unpaid carers will be able to get the support they need. Such changes are designed to put the carer in control of the help the carer receives. The Care Act regulations is not for young carers under the age 18 who care for others. The law that covers the rights of young carers and parent carers to be assessed is the Children and Families Act.

The Act introduces an assessment and eligibility process that acts as a key interaction between the local authority and the carer, in that it is a critical intervention in its own right by helping carers to understand their situation and access relevant support when they require it. This process affects how carers are assessed and how carers interact with local authorities as a result.

The meaning of ‘carer’

The carer is a person who provides or intends to provide care for another adult. It is either a relative or friend who assists another person in their day-to-day life. This is different from someone who offers care professionally or through a voluntary organisation.

‘Caring’ for someone in their own home or somewhere else refers to the person who provides assistance such as helping with personal care, washing, dressing or eating, escorting them to appointments, or keep them company when the person cared for is lonely or anxious. If the person the carers looks after is an adult (aged 18 or over) then from 1st April 2015, the carer may be able to get more help from the local authority to carry on caring.

Young Carers & Parents Carers

The Care Act relates to adult carers involving those who are over 18 who are caring for another adult. Young carers and adults caring for disabled children are assessed under the Children and Families Act. The Care Act however gives the right to the young carer to plan the support that the young carer may need once they reach 18 under what is called ‘transition assessment’. This is also applicable to adult carers of children where it appears that the adult carer may have needs for support once the disabled child turns 18.

Local Authority’s duties

The council must not presume that individuals are willing or able to take up caring roles. It is now a legal duty upon local authorities to offer a free carer’s assessment, if it appears that the carer may have any level of needs for support, irrespective of whether the council believes the carer has eligible needs.

This replaces the existing law that does not grant carers a legal right to receive support and was left at the discretion of the council or support was only given to the carer who provides ‘ a substantial amount of care on a regular basis’. With the new law, it doesn’t matter now how much care the carer provides. Any carer who feels they could benefit from some support has the right to an assessment.

The purpose of assessing the carer

The purpose of assessment is to involve the carer (and the independent advocate if applicable) to identify the needs and how these impact on the wellbeing and outcomes that the carer wishes to achieve in their day to day life. This is to enable the assessor to establish the full range of needs before eligibility is determined and the effect of those needs on the carer’s wellbeing (day to day life).

The assessment needs to look at the sustainability of the caring role, including the practical and emotional support provided. The assessment should must consider the carer’s future needs for support as well as their ability and willingness to provide care now and in the future. The carer’s assessment will look at the tasks that the carer is unable to achieve because of caring responsibilities (referred as ‘outcomes’).

A joint combined assessment can take place for both the carer and the person they care for, if they both agree for this to be conducted at the same time.

The National Eligibility Criteria for supporting carers

The local authorities rely on the new national eligibility threshold to determine whether the carer qualifies for support. If the carer needs meet this eligibility criteria, then the carer qualifies for help from the council. The assessor will look at the below three criteria

  1. Does the carer provide or intend to offer care provision for another person?
  2. Is the effect that any of the circumstances specified below apply?
  3. As a result, is there, or is there likely to be a significant impact on the carer’s wellbeing?

The council will determine whether the carers are

  1. Unable to perform the outcome without support. This involves where the carer would be unable to achieve an outcome even if support was offered.
  2. Able to achieve the outcome without assistance, but doing so causes the carer significant fatigue, distress or anxiety.
  3. Able to achieve the outcome without support, but doing so puts her in danger or is likely to endanger the health and safety of the carer, or of others.

Carer’s outcomes

Your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will be at the heart of the needs assessment. Throughout the assessment, the assessor will discuss with the carer the following risks and activities ‘outcomes’ that need to be specified in the assessment to enable the council to decide what care and support the carer requires and how much assistance the council could offer

  • The carer’s physical or mental health is, or is at risk of, deteriorating.
  • The carer is not capable to carry out any caring responsibilities the carer has for a child or other persons for whom the carer provides care the local authority should consider any parenting responsibilities the carer has for a child or any additional caring responsibilities the carer may have for other adults.
  • The carer is unable to maintain a habitable home environment in the carer’s home (regardless whether or not his is also the home of the adult needing care) the council should determine whether the condition of the carer’s home is safe and an appropriate environment to live in and whether it poses a significant risk to the carer’s wellbeing.
  • The carer is unable to manage and maintain nutrition Local authorities should consider whether the carer has got the time to perform essential tasks such as shopping or preparing meals for themselves and their family.
  • The carer is unable to develop and maintain family or other personal relationships, or unable to engage in work, training, education or volunteering Local authorities should consider whether the carer has the time to maintain key relationships with family and friends as well as engaging with the community or have the opportunity to apply themselves in education.
  • The carer is unable to engage in recreational activities Local councils should consider whether the carer has leisure free time to be participate in hobbies or gyms.
  • The carer is unable to make use of essential facilities or services in the local community including recreational facilities or services Local authorities should consider whether the carer is in position to make use of the local community’s services and facilities.

Receiving council support

The council must provide relevant information and advice specific to the carer’s requirements.

If it is determined that the carer qualifies for support, the council can support the carer by providing services to the person the carer cares for, or by providing the carer with support directly. This will be discussed in the process of support plan.

Support Planning Process

The carer will be involved in the process of a support plan that sets how the carer’s needs will be met. The council must assist the carer to prepare a support plan to outline how the carer’s needs are going to be addressed. The local authorities must consider the support the carer might need in a variety of areas, including practical help. The carer can write down the different types of assistance on the plan such as needing help with housework, keeping in touch with family and friends, gardening, joining a gym membership to keep fit or getting a break as respite by providing replacement care to the person that the carer care for, or any other support to improve the carer’s wellbeing for instance joining a leisure centre.

As part of their support plan, the carer is entitled to receive a personal budget informing her of the overall cost of meeting their needs including the amount the local authority is going to pay. The carer is entitled to request some or all of the personal budget as direct payments to give the carer control over how their support is provided.

Charging and Financial Assessment

Carers who provide support may undergo a financial assessment if the local authority decides to charge them. If the local authority does decide to charge carers, then it must carry out a financial assessment to determine whether the carer can afford to pay.

However, in most cases local authorities do not charge for providing support to carers, in recognition of the valuable contribution that carers make to their local community. If supporting a carer involves providing care to the person being cared for, and the local authority chooses to charge for that type of care, then the authority must carry out a financial assessment of the person who is being cared for. This is because the care would be provided directly to that adult, and not to the carer. The Act makes it clear that in such cases, the carer cannot be charged.

Further information

This factsheet is a basic overview of the assessment process for carers under the Care Act. You can find out more detailed information in our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop at https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/shop. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK

For further help and information please contact our Advice Line - 0330 995 0404.

You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org. We have a number of independent living factsheets.

These is also further information on the Carers UK (www.carersuk.org) and Contact a Family (www.cafamily.org.uk ) websites.

17 October 2017

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