Carer’s assessments are for adult carers of adults (over 18 years) who are disabled, ill or elderly.
The information in this section applies to people living in England. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, please click the relevant link below.
A carer's assessment is an opportunity to discuss with the local council what support or services you need. The assessment will look at how caring affects your life, including for example, physical, mental and emotional needs, and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring.
If you are a young carer, or a carer of a child under 18, see the section on young carers and carers of children under 18.
Who can have a carer’s assessment?
Any carer who appears to have a need for support should be offered an assessment.
You will be entitled to an assessment regardless of the amount or type of care you provide, your financial means or your level of need for support. You don’t necessarily have to live with the person you are looking after or be caring full-time to have an assessment. You may be juggling work and care and this is having a big impact on your life.
You can have an assessment whether or not the person you are looking after has had a needs assessment, or if the local council have decided they are not eligible for support.
If you and the person you are looking after agree, a combined assessment of both your needs can be undertaken at the same time.
If you are sharing caring responsibilities with another person, or more than one person, including a child under 18, you can each have an assessment (although for a child under 18 the assessment will be different - see section on young carers and carers of children under 18).back to top
How do I get a carer’s assessment?
You should be offered an assessment by the local council adult social services department of the person you are looking after.
If you have not been offered one, you should contact them by phone, in writing or on-line, and ask for an assessment.
If you want to, you can ask for an assessment before you take up your caring role.back to top
How will my carer’s assessment be carried out?
In some areas, local organisations may be asked to carry out the assessment, but arrangements should still be made through your local council and they should explain who will carry out the assessment.
Assessments can be done over the phone or online, but this should only happen if you agree. Your local council may carry out a supported self-assessment. This could involve you filling in a self- assessment questionnaire, and then being contacted by the local council to discuss what you have written on the form.
If the assessment involves a meeting, it should be carried out in a convenient and private place, usually at your home or at a council office. It is your choice about whether the person you are looking after is present or not. If it helps, you can have a family member, a friend or a Carers Support Worker from a carer’s organisation with you.
Your assessment should cover:
- your caring role and how it affects your life and wellbeing
- your health – physical, mental and emotional issues
- your feelings and choices about caring
- work, study, training, leisure
- relationships, social activities and your goals
- planning for emergencies (such as a Carer Emergency Scheme) – the local council should be able to tell you more about what they can do to help you plan for an emergency
You should be asked about these issues, but if not you can raise them yourself. The aim of the assessment is to help you get the support that you need. So it’s best to give your honest opinion about your caring role, the care you provide and your feelings about being a carer.
There is a useful list of questions to think about before you have your assessment in the appendix on page 26 of our assessments factsheet.back to top
How will the local council decide whether I am eligible for support?
Following your assessment, to be able to receive services and/or direct payments from the local council, you will need to meet the national eligibility criteria and therefore have what the law calls ‘eligible needs’.
Generally speaking, you will meet the eligibility criteria if there is (or is likely to be) a significant impact on your wellbeing as a result of you caring for another person.
There are three questions that the local council will need to consider when making their decision.
- Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
- Does your caring role have an effect on you?
- Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?
If the answer to all three questions is yes, then you will have eligible needs. These questions are explained in more detail below.
1. Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
The local council could decide that the care you provide is not necessary, that the looked after person could do the things you do themselves. Or they could decide that your needs or problems are the result of something other than your caring role.
2. Does your caring role have an effect on you?
The effect on you must be either:
- your physical or mental health is at risk of getting worse, or
- you are unable to achieve at least one of the following outcomes:
- look after any children you have responsibilities for
- provide care to any other person
- maintain your home in a fit and proper state
- eat properly and maintain proper nutrition
- maintain and develop your relationships with family and friends
- take part in any education, training, work or volunteering you may wish to
- time for social activities, hobbies etc.
In considering whether or not you can achieve the above outcomes, the local council must take into account any difficulties you have. You will be considered unable to achieve the outcome if you:
- need assistance to achieve the outcome
- can achieve the outcome unaided but experience pain, distress or anxiety
- can achieve the outcome unaided but doing so endangers, or may endanger your or another person’s health and safety
3. Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your well-being?
The definition of ‘well-being’ is very broad and includes things like personal dignity, control over your day to day life, participation in education, work or social activities, relationships with other people, having suitable accommodation, and protection from abuse and neglect.
The word ‘significant’ is not defined in law and so it should be given its everyday normal meaning. If you think that the effect on you is noticeable or important, this could count as significant.
When making a decision about whether there is, or is likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing, there are certain principles the local council must take into account. You can read more about these in our assessments factsheet.back to top
What help might I get?
If you don’t have eligible needs
If the local council decides that you do not have eligible needs, then you must be given a written decision explaining this.
You must also be given advice and information about what could be done to prevent or reduce your needs either now or in the future. This advice and information should be based on your specific circumstances.
If you do have eligible needs
If the local council decides that you do have eligible needs, then providing you want them to, they have a legal obligation to meet these needs and must draw up a support plan detailing how these needs will be met.
It may be agreed that the best way to help you as a carer is by providing services directly to you, by providing services to the person you are looking after, or a combination of both.
The local council can provide services themselves, or arrange services through another organisation. Alternatively, you or the person you are looking after can request direct payments, which are payments which enable you to buy services to meet your eligible needs. For more information you can view the direct payments section of our website.
The local council may or may not charge you for carers support, most councils do not. If they do, they must carry out a financial assessment to work out whether you have to make a contribution and if so, how much. If the help you are offered is free, the local council do not have to carry out a financial assessment.
Note: If the local council do charge for carers support and the outcome of your financial assessment is that you will have to pay the full charge, then the local council only has to meet your needs and draw up a support plan if you ask them too. The local council can then issue an additional charge for this.
The support plan must include:
- details of the needs identified in the assessment
- which needs meet the eligibility criteria
- which needs the local council is going to meet, and how
- the outcomes that you want to achieve
- information about the personal budget available (the amount of money that the local council has worked out it will cost to arrange the necessary support for you)
- information about direct payments
- information and advice to support you in your role as a carer and address your needs
Some examples of the kind of help that could be available directly to you as a carer:
- help with transport costs, such as taxi fares or driving lessons
- costs for a car where transport was crucial, such as repairs and insurance
- technology to support you, such as a mobile phone, computer where it is not possible to access computer services elsewhere
- help with housework or gardening
- help to relieve stress, improve health and promote wellbeing such as a gym membership
Some examples of the kind of help that could be available to the person you are looking after, in order to help you as a carer:
- changes to their home to make it more suitable
- equipment such as a hoist or grab rail
- a care worker to help provide personal care at home
- a temporary stay in residential care/respite care
- meals delivered to their home
- a place at a day centre
- assistance with travel, for example to get to a day centre
- laundry services
- replacement care so you can have a break
What might I have to pay?
The local council may or may not charge you for carer’s services. However if they do decide to charge carers for services they must carry out a financial assessment to determine how much you would need to contribute (if anything).
Note: Only the person receiving the services can be charged for them. As a carer you cannot be charged for services provided to the person you are looking after, and the person you are looking after cannot be charged for services provided to you as a carer.
The financial assessment
The financial assessment will look at your income and capital (including any share of joint income or capital), and the outcome could be that:
- You are entitled to receive the services free of charge.
- You have to pay something towards the costs of the services you receive.
- Your income or capital is above the threshold and so the local council does not have to provide you with any services. In this situation, you can still ask the local council to meet your needs, however the local council can not only charge for the services provided, they can also charge for the cost of arranging and managing those services.
This is how the local council work out what you will pay:
Step 1: They decide which services they will provide and their cost.
Step 2: They check if you have capital above a certain amount (see below).
Step 3: They work out how much income you have coming in (see below).
Step 4: To ensure that you have enough money to live on the local council has to leave you with a protected amount. For carers this amount is called the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) which is equivalent to Income Support or the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (plus any relevant premiums excluding the severe disability premium), plus a buffer of 25%.
Step 5: The local council will charge an amount from your income and capital above the protected amount.
The upper capital limit for 2016/2017 is £23,250. This means that if you have capital over this amount, you will pay the full cost for any services you receive.
The lower capital limit for 2016/2017 is £14,250. This means that if you have capital below this amount, it should be ignored for the financial assessment.
If your capital is between £14,250 and £23,250, £1 a week for every £250 is taken into account as income. So, if you have capital of £4,000 above the lower capital limit, £16 will be taken into account as income a week.
The value of the home you live in should not be taken into account as capital.
When deciding how much income you have, only some income is taken into account. Certain types of income are always ignored including:
- earnings (employed or self-employed)
- the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit
The local council can treat disability related benefits, such as the care component of DLA, the daily living component of PIP, or Attendance Allowance as income. If they do, they should deduct any disability related expenditure before they take it into account as income. For some examples of disability related expenditure you can view the ‘What might I have to pay?’ section in the needs assessment information.
Most other benefits will be taken into account as income in full.back to top