Carers Rights Day - so what rights do carers have?

20 November 2017
Carers Rights Day - so what rights do carers have?

Friday 24 November is Carers Rights Day

Carers Rights Day is a national campaign that brings organisations and experienced carers together to help other carers in their local area to understand their rights and find out how to get the support they are entitled to.

There an estimated 118,000 unpaid carers in Derbyshire and Derby City. Many of these don’t identify as ‘carers’ and so aren’t aware of their rights or the support they’re entitled to. 

So what rights do carers' have?

Click on the title to go the section you want to read:

The right to: a carers assessment

Mentioned a few times already in previous blogs so we won’t bang on about it….although we might as it’s quite a biggie…

Under the Care Act if you’re caring for someone you have a right to have your own needs assessed, even if the person you are looking after has had a social care assessment of their own and are receiving care services. The assessment will look at the care you provide and how this affects your life. It will consider the things you want to do in your life, such as work, training, social activities and your wellbeing. It will look at issues including whether you need any support to carry on your caring role. The worker carrying out your assessment will tell you about services and support are available to carers.

If you have an assessment you may also be able to get a Carers Personal Budget to help you pay for a break from caring or buy something to make your life easier.

The right to: have your views heard

Your views should be taken into consideration by Adult Care and NHS services. If they are supporting the person you look after, they should talk to you when deciding how best to meet the needs of the person you look after. After all, it likely you are the person who knows them the best so of course you should have your opinions heard!  However organisations do have to adhere to privacy and data protection laws and finding the balance about how much to share with family members and carers can be difficult for staff.

Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust provide a variety of services for people with mental ill health and people with learning disabilities, amongst other services. They've developed a booklet called Sharing Information with Family and Carers to explain how they manage information sharing. This explains the Trust's own policies but also explains the laws around information sharing generally. Other organisations are likely to have similar policies. We've also got advice on our information sharing page.

If you disagree with a decision that’s been made by a health or social care professional, ask them to explain the reasoning behind the decision and how that fits with the law/eligibility. It’s reasonable to ask questions, so don’t feel uncomfortable. Use email if you’re not confident asking them face-to-face.

Many carers struggle if the person they look after has to go into hospital. Handing over the care (and what feels like control) to someone else can leave you feeling powerless but you have got rights. It's can also be stressful to manage a discharge from hospital. Carers UK have put together a handy guide on coming out of hospital.

The right to: information and advice about local services and care and support

The introduction of the Care Act saw a duty for local authorities to provide information and advice about social care services, including benefits advice. If you’re looking after someone, having the right information at the right time can make a huge difference. 

Information about carers support services:

This very website was developed to help carers find out about support services. Our directory includes now 175 services! We’re working to develop a printed copy of the directory that can be used by carers and support workers around the county. We also have our Facebook page where we try to keep carers up-to-date with information, news and events (and the odd pretty sunset on a Friday).

Derbyshire Carers Association have their own website, leaflets, support groups, a quarterly newsletter as well as their support workers who try to engage with as many carers as possible in order to provide information and advice. In addition they have recently set up their popular legal advice clinics and welfare rights clinics, as well as First Aid and moving and handling training with much more to come next year! 

NHS services continue to support carers including Derbyshire Community Health Service’s school nurse service who support parent and young carers. 

Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust provide a Carers Handbook booklet, organise events and maintain their popular website. They too produce a quarterly newsletter called 'Who Cares?'. You can contact DHcFT to request to receive the newsletter by email or post

Derbyshire County Council (DCC) produce a Guide to Carers Services leaflet and staff attend information events aimed at carers.

And that is only a few examples!

Information for the Cared-for person

DCC Adult Care provide a range of information about their services and you can order printed copies of their information leaflets from their website. Alternate formats are always available on request.  Social care can be difficult to understand so DCC have produced a short video to explain their processes. 

Approx. 130 information points across the county hold copies of paper Adult Care information leaflets: including libraries, GP surgeries and community venues.

The First Contact Scheme puts the person you look after in touch with over 30 local services (Fire Service, community alarms, health and wellbeing advice) providing support, advice and information.

You can get information about care services and community groups from the council’s Brokerage Service. The Care Services Directory has listings of care homes and home care services.

Need help with understanding benefit entitlement? Just call 11am between 4.30pm, Monday to Friday and the Welfare Rights Service will be able to check you and the person you look after are claiming the right benefits, give advice and can even give support you at appeals and tribunals.

Call Derbyshire can provide information and advice but pressure on services mean you may be waiting on the phone a while. But if it’s just a general enquiry why not look on the website or send an email?

That’s just a couple of organisations! We could go on all day!

The right to: Not be discriminated against on the basis of your association with a disabled person 

Examples might be if as a carer you were refused entry to a venue because you were with someone who is disabled - both the person with the disability and you would potentially have been discriminated against.  

Carers Trust have some information on the Equalities Act and how it relates to carers, and the gov.uk website has produceda guide book on the Act aimed at carers.

If you are supporting the person you care for to access an attraction, leisure facility or event, as a carer you should get in for free if they would be unable to access the attraction without your support. However some attractions aren't aware of this - but don’t be afraid to point out the law and ask for free entry.

Carers Trust also have information on what to do if believe an attraction or facility hasn't followed the Equalities Act.

Employment Rights

Employers have got to treat you fairly. For example, it's classed as discrimination if, for example, you are denied a promotion because of your caring role. We’ve got more information about employment rights but here’s an overview:

The right to: request flexible working

All employees have the right to ask for flexible working after they’ve worked for the same employer for 26 weeks (six months).

You should make flexible working requests in writing. Include details of the amended working pattern you want, how you think this may affect your employer’s business and how you think it can be dealt with. Employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting your request.

The right to: take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency or an unforeseen matter involving a dependent (someone who depends on you for care).

The time off is usually unpaid, unless your employer is willing to give paid time off as part of your contract. If you think you’d struggle to afford the unpaid time off, put together a carers emergency plan. It may be possible that someone else could step in to help out if they had prior warning they could be needed and had been brought up to speed on the cared-for person’s needs and how to meet them. 

Protecting your state pension

If you have given up work to care for someone, your State Pension may not be your first concern. However, if your working life is interrupted because your paid job ends it can have a detrimental impact on how much State Pension you receive in the future. Carers UK has some great advice on how to protect your pension as well info about Carers Credit.

Young Carers

Young Carers (under 18) and young adult carers (18-25) can get support from the Derbyshire Young Carers Service.

Young carers may be entitled to a “young carers needs assessment” to decide what kind of help they and their family might need. The assessment will look at whether it is appropriate for the young person to care for someone else, and whether they want to carry on being a carer and what support could be put in place to help. The service can also offer support with education, training, leisure opportunities and discuss the young person’s views about their future if they want to. 

Contact Derbyshire Carers on tel: 01773 833833 for more info.

You can also talk to your school nurse for advice. If you don't know who your nurse is, ask your teacher or a member of school staff.

Further informantion 

That’s just a whistle stop tour! You can find out more about other carers rights issues including Power of Attorney, the Care Act and information sharing on our website. Other websites with information about rights are: