The Care Act for carers
The Care Act 2014 recognises the importance of supporting carers, raises awareness of carers new rights and puts them on an equal footing to the person they care for.
Previously, carers didn't have a legal right to receive support, although local authorities could provide support at their discretion. This meant that the ability to have an assessment and access a range of support varied depending on where you lived in the country.
The Care Act relates to adult carers who look after another adult - if you're young carer or care for a disabled child, please see the section on 'Young and Parent Carers' at the bottom of this page.
If you care for a friend or family member, the Care Act means that you should be offered a free carers assessment – and you have a legal right to support if your needs assessment shows that you meet the carers eligibility criteria. Support offered could be information about support groups, services to give you a break from caring or access to training courses.
The carers assessment isn't about assessing how well you provide care, it's about helping you and making sure you have enough support.
You also have a right to refuse a carers assessment when offered. Legally, you are treated equally to the person you care for in terms of needs.
In the past only carers who provided ‘substantial’ and ‘regular’ care were entitled to a carers assessment. The Care Act means that all carers who feel they could benefit from some support have the right to an assessment. It doesn’t matter how much care you provide – what is important is the impact caring has on your daily life and wellbeing.
You can have a carers assessment (and possibly get support) even if the person you care for isn’t getting support from Derbyshire County Council Adult Care. If you and the person you care for both agree, you can have your carers assessment at the same time they have an Adult Care needs assessment (or review), or if you wish, you could have a carers assessment totally independently.
You can find out more about carers assessments and how to ask for one on the carers assessment information page.
The Care Act has also introduced a separate eligibility criteria for carers.
Carers assessed as eligible do not have to contribute to the cost of any services they receive as part of a carers assessment.
The Act also set consistent national eligibility criteria for adults with care and support needs. Previously local authorities could set their own eligibility criteria which meant people got a different level of support depending on where they lived.
Carers have a right to advocacy support if they need help expressing their views and wishes and making sure their voice is heard. You can use an advocate to help you liaise with health and social care professionals (regarding yourself or the person you care for) or to access local services such as housing, health services and employment services.
Prevention and wellbeing
The Care Act puts a responsibility on local authorities to promote wellbeing, focusing on prevention and providing information and advice. This includes providing information for carers, both in relation to their own needs and those of the person they care for.
Young and parent carers
The Care Act relates mainly to adult carers. This is because young carers (aged under 18) and adults who care for disabled children can be assessed and supported under children's law. However, regulations under the Care Act set out how assessments of adults with care and support needs must be carried out to ensure the needs of the whole family are considered.
This could include assessing what an adult needs to enable them to fulfil their parental responsibilities towards their children to ensure that young people do not undertake inappropriate caring responsibilities. You can also see our Young Carers section for local support services and the NHS Choices website has further information about young carers rights.
An adult caring for a child with additional needs or disabilities is usually best supported through Children's Services. However, an adult caring for a disabled child can ask local Adult Social Care services to assess them as a carer before their child turns 18 as part of their transition to adult services. The NHS Choices website has further information about caring for a disabled child.
Other helpful websites
- NHS website - Carers and the Care Act
- Gov.uk - Department of Health Care Act factsheets
- Social Care Institute for Excellence - Care Act animated video
- Carers UK - Care Act FAQ