A guide to carers rights for unpaid carers
We have written this handy guide to carers rights.
The Care Act 2014
These are two of the Acts that are most useful when discussing carer rights. The Care Act is specifically for adults caring for adults and the Children and Families Act applies the law to adults caring for children.
This article focuses on the Care Act 2014, how to assert your rights as a carer and how they apply in caring roles. Young carers under the age of 18 and parent-carers of children have protection under different legislation which is the Children and Families Act 2014.
Before going into detail about carers rights, remember:
- There is no legal obligation to be a carer
- Carers have the right to choose
- Coercion or manipulation to care is illegal.
There may be a moral obligation to be a carer, however:
- Willingness and ability should not be assumed
- Carers are entitled to protection from the impact of the caring role.
What is the Care Act?
The Care Act 2014 gives adult carers of adults the right to support and protection from their local authority. Young carers and parent-carers of children have protection under different legislation – the Children and Families Act 2014 –there is more detail below.
Legislation prior to the 2014 Care Act gave carers some rights and protection, however it was only a guidance to Local Authorities, rather than a duty that they had to perform. Under the Care Act, carers have the same protection from harm in law as those they care for.
The ethos behind the Care Act is prevention. The Act recognises that by supporting carers better, the impact of the caring role on other areas of a carers’ life may be less difficult and consequently carers are less likely to become disabled or unwell themselves.
Carers and the Care Act 2014
The Care Act gives adult carers of adults the right to receive support and protection from their local authority.
The primary way to get this support is through a Carer’s Assessment. Find out more about the Carer’s Assessment here
As a carer, let your GP know that you are looking after someone and ask your GP for a referral for a carers’ assessment.
What should a Carers’ Assessment include?
All adult carers, aged 18 years and over, who are caring for another adult are eligible for a Carers’ Assessment. It is the Local Authority’s duty to offer carers an assessment. The assessment should look at everything you do within your caring role, as well as identifying your needs, including the things you would like to be able to do in your daily life.
You should be offered a written support plan that outlines any specific support that you need, and you may be offered a budget for your own use that can pay for something to enhance your wellbeing.
How to prepare for your carer’s assessment
To get prepared for your assessment, you will need:
- your NHS number if you have one
- your GP’s name, address and phone number
- contact details of anyone who’s coming to the assessment with you
- the name, address, date of birth and NHS number of the person you care for – if you have these details
- your email address.
Give as much information as you can about the impact that caring for someone is having on your life. This will help make sure you get all the help and support you need.
The impact of caring
Caring can impact on carers in many ways. The annual Carers UK’s survey, the State of Caring Survey, highlights the impact that caring has on carers including:
- Health and wellbeing
- Isolation and loneliness
- Family, friends and social life
- Health and wellbeing
- Education and training opportunities
- Life decisions and choices.
The Care Act 2014 identifies a range of wellbeing principles, and recognises that a carer’s wellbeing is to be protected equally to the person/s that they look after. The wellbeing principles are:
- Personal dignity, including treatment of the individual with respect
- Physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing
- Protection from abuse and neglect and safeguarding
- Control by the individual over day-to-day life, including over what care and support is provided and the way it is provided
- Participation in work, education, training or recreation
- Social and economic wellbeing
- Domestic, family and personal life
- Suitability of living accommodation
- The individual’s contribution to society.
Local Authorities’ duties to carers
Prior to the Care Act 2014, Local Authorities were only required to provide information and support to carers on request. Now they have a duty to protect carers including:
- A duty to assess carers when they come to their attention
- A duty to provide carers with support to meet their needs, according to national eligibility criteria
- A duty to provide information and advice, to promote wellbeing and to prevent people need support, where possible
- Carers eligibility is measured as the impact on the carer that their caring role has, in relation to the wellbeing principles.
Looking at whether your needs are eligible for support
How will the local council decide if your needs as a carer are eligible for their support? The Care Act introduces national rules for deciding who is eligible for care
and support. However, it will still be for local councils to make the decision about whether or not your needs meet the rules and so whether you have what the law calls eligible needs. You will meet the eligibility criteria if there is likely to be a significant impact on your wellbeing as a result of your caring role.
There are three questions the local council will have to consider in 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
- If the answer to all three questions is yes, then you will have eligible needs.
Your rights as a carer
As a carer, you have the following rights as defined by the law:
- To choose whether or not to be a carer
- To self-determine willingness and ability to care
- To be supported to identify which needs of the person you care for you may be willing and able to support
- For the carers views to be considered by Adult Social Care when organising provision for the cared-for person
- To have a Carers Assessment carried out
- To request flexible working
- To engage in employment, education, training and leisure
- Rights as defined by Civil Rights and Human Rights legislation
- Additional rights associated with the Equalities Bill.
There is no legal obligation to be a carer and:
- It is illegal to coerce or force someone to be a carer, or to demand they do certain tasks and hours.
- If you choose to be a carer, you have the right to say what you are willing and able to do for the person you care for – and be supported in that choice.
- Carers have the right to a view on how support and care is organised for the person they care for.
- When you have had a carer’s assessment, you should expect to receive a support plan, as well as the conditions on which any financial support is given. The carer’s assessment is the opportunity for you to define your caring role, talk about the impact and look at any changes you wish to make.
- The right to flexible working is a request to your employer that can be negotiated. It will also depend on your employment situation, as flexibility in your workplace may not be an option. If your employer refuses to consider your request, they may be in breach of the law. If they cannot offer flexibility, they must explain why it is not possible.
- Carers are entitled to live fulfilling lives. You have the right to do what you want to, alongside your caring role. Any attempt to prevent you from doing that, for instance by withdrawing support, is illegal.
- Under the Equality Act being a carer is not a protected characteristic; however, carers are protected by association with someone who has a disability, long term condition or other conditions. This is for the provision of goods and services.
- You have the right to make changes to your caring role at any time.
- The responsibility (the Duty of Care) for the care and support of adults who are cared for lies with the Local Authority and not you as a carer.
Asserting your right as a carer
If you feel that your rights are not being taken into account, it may feel quite overwhelming. There are steps you can take to maintain and assert your rights as a carer if you are having an issue.
- You can identify the issue and its impact and check it against your rights and what the law says. Then think about the options open to you to take. You can get help from Care for the Carers or a local community legal service.
- Also ask and get the support of trusted friends or family members who can provide practical and moral support. For instance a friend or family member could attend meetings with you.
- In the first instance, you should contact in writing the service or team responsible for decisions affecting your rights. Include details and outline your rights.
- Write to those who are in charge if you are not satisfied with the response that you receive.
- Do your homework and thoroughly prepare for meetings and calls. Be clear in what you are asking for, write down notes of the points or questions that you want to say and the responses that you receive. You can also write a follow-up email or letter with the points discussed in the meeting and any agreed outcomes.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed in meetings or in a situation, remain calm and take time out if you need it. You can take it at your own pace and try not to feel overwhelmed.
How to complain about a carer’s assessment
If you disagree with the results of your carer’s assessment or how it was done, you can complain.
First complain to East Sussex County Council. You should also be told about how to complain at your assessment.
If you’re not happy with the way the council handles your complaint, you can take it to the local government and social care ombudsman. An ombudsman is an independent person who’s been appointed to look into complaints about organisations.
Young carers are children under 18 with caring responsibilities. Their rights to be assessed come mostly from the Children’s Act 1989 and the Children and Families Act 2014, and as part of the whole family approach. If there is a disabled adult being cared for, then the local council has a duty to consider whether there are any children involved in providing that care, and if so, what the impact is on that child. More information is here.
Contact us about carer assessments
Care for the Carers can also help with information on carers assessments and if you need to talk things through, so please do contact us.
Carers UK have produced this useful fact sheet about Carers Assessments.