Caring for an elderly relative is not always easy, particularly if you have a job and a home of your own to run. Adapting to caring for someone who has previously cared for you can seem strange for both of you, and you may find it difficult to adjust to the demands that elderly care places on you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.
Arranging for a carer’s assessment
Your local social services may approach you with the offer of a carer’s assessment, but if this is not the case, you will need to contact your local authority’s offices and ask for an assessment to take place.
You can do this once you have already begun caring for your loved one, or before you start looking after them. The service is available to absolutely everyone, regardless of income, so it’s worth doing to discover the type of help that could be on offer for you and your loved one.
Where more than one person is taking responsibility for the care of an elderly relative, they are all entitled to a carer’s assessment, and this is not dependent on the number of hours worked or on the sort of care that you are providing, such as companion care or dementia care.
You don’t even have to share a home with your loved one, and your caring duties don’t have to be full-time. In fact, many carer’s assessments are requested because the carer is also trying to hold down a full-time job, which is having an impact on their own life.
The carer’s assessment can be carried out in conjunction with a needs assessment of your loved one, provided that you both agree to this. Even if your relative has been declared ineligible for support following a previous needs assessment, this has no impact on your own assessment.
What does the carer’s assessment involve?
The assessment can take many different forms, depending on your local area authority. In some cases, you may be interviewed over the phone, or online, or you may be asked to fill out a self-assessment questionnaire.
Some assessments take the form of a meeting, either at your local council offices, in your own home, or in your elderly relative’s home. It is up to you whether you choose to have your elderly relative present at the meeting, but it is perfectly acceptable to have a friend or family member accompanying you to the meeting.
It can be beneficial to make notes before your assessment, to make sure that you cover all the essential topics. You should consider the impact that your caring role has upon your general health and state of mind, and how it affects all aspects of your life.
The purpose of the assessment is to establish the amount and type of support that you need, so you should aim to be completely honest about the effect it is having, or will have, on your life.
The assessment should also take into consideration what will happen in the event of an emergency. Your local council should have a planned Carer Emergency Scheme, which will offer you help and assistance if you find yourself in an extreme situation.
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Establishing eligibility for assistance
Once you have completed your assessment interview or questionnaire, your answers will be considered, and your local social services department will decide whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria for assistance.
As a rule of thumb, the greater the impact that caring has on your wellbeing, the likelier it is that you will qualify for assistance, whether practical or financial.
Your social services team will seek to establish whether or not your role as a carer is having an impact on your life, and how much it is affecting you, and they will decide on your eligibility for assistance based on this.
What happens next?
If your local authority feels that you do not need any additional help, they are obliged to inform you of this fact, and to provide you with information on what to do if your circumstances change.
Where it is felt that you do qualify for some form of assistance, the social services department should draw up a support plan, indicating the type of help you qualify for.
It may be decided that the best way forward is to provide your loved one with additional support, or you may qualify for assistance yourself, or you may be offered a combination of support services.
Although your local authority offers its own services, you are not obliged to use them, and if you qualify for help, you are at liberty to choose where to spend any payments that you receive on private assistance.
Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be required to complete a financial assessment to determine whether or not any help you are entitled to will be provided at no cost to yourself or your loved one.
The value of the property in which your loved one lives is not included in any financial assessment. For 2017/18, your loved one will be expected to pay the full cost of any services if their capital is above £23,250.
If their capital is less than £14,250, they qualify for free local authority assistance. For capital between these figures, your local authority will calculate what proportion of financial assistance your loved one should contribute.
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