What kind of carers assessment?
Different kinds of carers assessments are often carried out by or on behalf of different agencies – for example, local authorities, the NHS, and local carers organisations.
The information below and on the purpose of a carers assessment page relates to carers assessments carried out as a statutory responsibility of the local authority. Sometimes these are carried out by another organisation (such as a carers centre) on behalf of the local authority.
Currently adult carers have rights to an assessment under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000. In April 2015, the Care Act 2014 will come into force which will change the way in which carers assessments need to be offered and provided.
Functions of carers assessment
A carers assessment performs two functions: firstly it is a gateway to support provided by a local authority, and secondly it is an opportunity for a carer to express whether they wish to continue caring, how their life is, and what would help them.
If it is done well, it can also be a positive intervention in its own right, with carers feeling they have been listened to and valued, and that they know who to contact if they need help in the future.
All professionals who are in contact with any carer, or who meet new carers, should ensure that they are given the option to have this formal opportunity to talk about their needs. This is a statutory obligation for social care and other council staff.
Currently under the law, a carer needs to be undertaking “regular and substantial caring” and needs to request an assessment in order to have a right to an assessment. This was problematic as the definitions of “regular” and “substantial” were unclear. Under the Care Act 2014, all carers should be offered an assessment, based on the appearance that they have a need for support.
Carers who refuse an assessment
If a carer says they do not want an assessment, it is a good idea to find out why. It may be that they cannot see the point, do not understand what is on offer, or don’t feel comfortable talking about their needs (as opposed to those of the person they care for).
Often, carers worry about having an “assessment” and fear that they are being assessed as to whether they are a “good enough” carer. It is important to explain the purpose of an assessment and that they might be able to get support as a result.
It is also important to explain what the assessment is for in order to enable to carer to think about it in advance.