How do I get a carer’s assessment?

Whether you’ve just become a carer or have been looking after a loved one for many years, it’s really important to make sure you get enough support so that your own needs aren’t neglected. Find out what you should know about a carer’s assessment and why it might be worth having one.

In a nutshell

Caring for a person with dementia can be extremely difficult so it’s important to take all the help you can get, whether practical, financial or emotional, otherwise you could end up suffering from stress and depression which could, in turn, affect your ability to care. A carer’s assessment is carried out by a trained professional (usually a social worker) and takes a detailed look at how caring affects your life and whether you are in need of support from outside agencies.

Carer’s assessment: The basics

1. All carers are entitled to an assessment so if you haven’t been offered one contact your adult social services department and ask for an assessment. If you’ve had one before but would like it to be updated (because your loved one’s condition has deteriorated, for example) ask for a review of your support plan.

2. In preparation for the assessment, you should be given some information in advance from social services such as a list of the questions they will ask so you have time to think about them.

3. The assessment should take place in a convenient and private place, usually in your own home or at a council office. It might be carried out at the same time as a care needs assessment but if you’d rather have it at a different time, you can. You can also request that the person you care for is not present.

Did you know? You don’t have to live with the person you care for to be entitled to a carer’s assessment. You don’t have to care for them full-time either. You may have a full time job and share the caring duties with other friends or family.

Is caring for your loved one having a significant impact on your wellbeing?

Caring can take its toll on many areas of your life, such as your physical and mental health, your ability to work, study, or look after children. It can put a strain on your finances, housing, social activities, ability to cook, do housework and care for yourself. The assessor should ask a wide range of questions.

Areas which should be covered in a carer’s assessment

Help and time – How much help do you give your loved one with housework, shopping, bathing, cooking etc?
Health – This includes your own health and the health of your loved one.
Your feelings about caring – Do you feel you have no choice about caring or find it so hard that you won’t be able to carry on caring for much longer? Do you worry about what might happen in an emergency?
Work – Are you managing your work load? Does your employer know? What would make it easier for you?
Housing – Do you live with the person you’re caring for? Are you happy with the arrangement? Do you worry they might come to some harm? Are you able to care for your own home?

The outcome

If the assessor concludes that you are in need of care and support then the local council will have a legal obligation to meet those needs. For example, if you’re in need of time to yourself, they could arrange for your loved one to attend a day centre or have some respite care. If you need help around the home or in the garden they might be able to provide that too. If a grab rail or hoist could make some of your duties easier, they might arrange for one to be fitted. They may even be able to arrange gym membership if it could help to relieve stress.

But will it cost?

Many councils don’t charge for carers services but some do and will ask you to undergo a financial assessment before offering anything free.

Good to know

It’s best to be as honest as possible about the areas you might be finding difficult so that you can get the most out of a carer’s assessment. Putting on a brave face is pointless if it means you continue struggling on alone. If you still find it difficult to ask for help, think about the person you’re caring for. Would they want you to be stressed and tired all the time? Or would they want you to have support?