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Carers

Some disabled people may need day-to-day assistance from carers or enablers and most care is given on an informal family basis. Under the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 and the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, carers have the right to an assessment of their own needs when the disabled person they care for is being assessed, or reassessed, by the social services department.

The age of the carer is immaterial: young carers (under 18 years old), parent carers who look after their disabled children, and adult carers (one adult caring for another) are all covered by the Acts. The carer does not have to be a relative of the person for whom they care, or to be living with them, in order to get an assessment of their needs. The intention is that carers should be given all the support they need in order that they can continue caring.

Caring for someone can be stressful on occasions, and it is important to recognise and respect your own needs and wishes, as well as the needs and wishes of the disabled person. It is sometimes difficult to admit that you have needs too, and feelings of guilt at wanting to have the occasional break, and of anger or resentment against the disabled person and at your own situation, are quite normal. In order to continue caring, however, and to maintain your own health and ability, you should acknowledge your need for support and allow yourself to accept help, to take a break and, if you wish, to discuss your feelings with other people.

Assessments and Service Provision

Assessments of need are important because once someone’s need for services or support has been identified by the social services department, it has a duty to ensure that the necessary provision is made. As a carer, you should take the opportunity to make your needs known and to ask the social services to make formal arrangements to provide you with the support you require. Such support can take a variety of forms and the social services should, in consultation with you and the disabled person, take a flexible approach and design a package of support which suits your individual needs and circumstances. For example, if it was agreed that you would benefit from respite care being arranged for the disabled person, this could range from the provision of home care once a week to give you a regular day off, to alternative care arrangements for the disabled person while you take a proper holiday. The way in which your needs are met, however, will generally be determined by the needs of the disabled person.

Financial Support

Invalid Care Allowance (ICA) may be payable to a carer between 16 - 65 years of age who is spending at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who receives either Attendance Allowance or the care component of Disability Living Allowance at either the middle or the higher rate (see Social Security Benefits). You do not have to be related to, or living with, the disabled person. If you meet the 35 hour rule for part of the year (eg, during school holidays) you may qualify for ICA during that period. Although you must not be in full time education (ie attending a course for 21 hours or more a week), you may work part time as long as you do not earn more than £50 net a week. People in receipt of ICA receive Class 1 National Insurance contribution credits, thus preserving their Retirement Pension entitlement.

Informal Assistance

The Carers National Association is the main national body working on behalf of carers and  supporting their needs. It offers an advice service for all people caring for a relative or friend at home, and has a network of support groups for carers across the country. It encourages carers to recognise their own needs, and campaigns for improvements in the level of support for carers by local and national government. As well as its magazine, "The Carer", the Association also produces a number of leaflets and booklets. Crossroads Care (The Association of Care Attendants) is a home-based respite care service to relieve carers looking after dependent relatives and friends in their own homes. The care attendants offer personal assistance on a flexible basis in consultation with the carer and the disabled person. Details of local services can be obtained from Crossroads Care head office.

Some disabled people may need day-to-day assistance from carers or enablers and most care is given on an informal family basis. Under the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 and the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, carers have the right to an assessment of their own needs when the disabled person they care for is being assessed, or reassessed, by the social services department. The age of the carer is immaterial: young carers (under 18 years old), parent carers who look after their disabled children, and adult carers (one adult caring for another) are all covered by the Acts. The carer does not have to be a relative of the person for whom they care, or to be living with them, in order to get an assessment of their needs. The intention is that carers should be given all the support they need in order that they can continue caring.

Caring for someone can be stressful on occasions, and it is important to recognise and respect your own needs and wishes, as well as the needs and wishes of the disabled person. It is sometimes difficult to admit that you have needs too, and feelings of guilt at wanting to have the occasional break, and of anger or resentment against the disabled person and at your own situation, are quite normal. In order to continue caring, however, and to maintain your own health and ability, you should acknowledge your need for support and allow yourself to accept help, to take a break and, if you wish, to discuss your feelings with other people.

Assessments and Service Provision

Assessments of need are important because once someone’s need for services or support has been identified by the social services department, it has a duty to ensure that the necessary provision is made. As a carer, you should take the opportunity to make your needs known and to ask the social services to make formal arrangements to provide you with the support you require. Such support can take a variety of forms and the social services should, in consultation with you and the disabled person, take a flexible approach and design a package of support which suits your individual needs and circumstances. For example, if it was agreed that you would benefit from respite care being arranged for the disabled person, this could range from the provision of home care once a week to give you a regular day off, to alternative care arrangements for the disabled person while you take a proper holiday. The way in which your needs are met, however, will generally be determined by the needs of the disabled person.

Financial Support

Invalid Care Allowance (ICA) may be payable to a carer between 16 - 65 years of age who is spending at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who receives either Attendance Allowance or the care component of Disability Living Allowance at either the middle or the higher rate (see Social Security Benefits). You do not have to be related to, or living with, the disabled person. If you meet the 35 hour rule for part of the year (eg, during school holidays) you may qualify for ICA during that period. Although you must not be in full time education (ie attending a course for 21 hours or more a week), you may work part time as long as you do not earn more than £50 net a week. People in receipt of ICA receive Class 1 National Insurance contribution credits, thus preserving their Retirement Pension entitlement.

Informal Assistance

The Carers National Association is the main national body working on behalf of carers and  supporting their needs. It offers an advice service for all people caring for a relative or friend at home, and has a network of support groups for carers across the country. It encourages carers to recognise their own needs, and campaigns for improvements in the level of support for carers by local and national government. As well as its magazine, "The Carer", the Association also produces a number of leaflets and booklets. Crossroads Care (The Association of Care Attendants) is a home-based respite care service to relieve carers looking after dependent relatives and friends in their own homes. The care attendants offer personal assistance on a flexible basis in consultation with the carer and the disabled person. Details of local services can be obtained from Crossroads Care head office.

Carers association

We are indebted to RADAR for providing the information for this section.