Coronavirus - Advice and Support for Carers

Carers matter too. If you are providing regular care and support to someone else, it is essential that you are able to take care of yourself as well, especially during these difficult and uncertain times.

Caring and COVID-19

Because of the current coronavirus pandemic, the rules have been changed for the time being, so that providing care and emotional support over the phone or online will now count towards the 35 hours of caring that is required to qualify for Carer's Allowance.

If you live with the person you are caring for, take extra precautionary measures by only doing what is essential and ensuring that you maintain optimum hygiene for people who are considered to be at higher risk.

If you do not live together, the government advice states that you can continue to visit in order to provide care. It is vital however to stop this immediately if you begin to show symptoms of COVID-19. It will help everyone if you make a plan in advance, setting down what will happen if you suddenly have to take a break.

General information for carers - what is an assessment?

An assessment is part of the process for both carers and the people they look after to access help and support from their local authority social services department. If you are providing regular and substantial care, you can request an assessment in order to determine the support that you need as a carer. Social services may also carry out a separate community care assessment for the person you look after if it appears that they may be in need of community care services. This may be due to a disability or a health condition, or simply the fact they are frail in old age. In some cases, the NHS and social services will work together to ensure that a thorough assessment is carried out.

As a carer, you would usually be consulted as part of the community care assessment, unless the person you care for has any objections to this.

There is guidance relating to specific groups of vulnerable people (including older people and those with learning disabilities and long-term conditions); which sets out how carers should be involved in the assessment and planning process for the person they are looking after.

Carers' Assessments

What is a Carers Assessment?

If you provide substantial and regular unpaid care for someone such as a relative, partner or friend, you may be entitled to a Carer's Assessment.

A Carer's Assessment is designed to identify your needs as a carer. This may be carried out in your own home by a social worker or other professional, or it may take place in your local Carers' Centre with a member of their trained staff. The assessment focuses on you and what you need to continue in your caring role. A Care Needs Assessment should also be offered for the person you care for if they have not yet had one, or a re-assessment should be arranged if their needs have changed.

What happens during the assessment?

The person carrying out the assessment will discuss with you your caring role and your own needs aside from caring, in order to understand any support that you may need.

The assessment will consider:

  • Choice - whether the amount of care that you are providing is actually your own choice
  • Health - the impact that providing care has upon your own health and wellbeing
  • Daily routines - the impact upon your own domestic needs, work and relationships
  • Involvement - your right to be involved in decisions made by the Social Work Department regarding the person you care for
  • Your needs - your own needs for time to do other things such as leisure and social activities

The person carrying out the assessment will fill in forms with the information you give them and ask you to sign them.

What happens after the assessment?

A copy of the outcome of your assessment will be sent to you, with details of the support the Social Work Department can offer you to meet your assessed needs. This may include things that will benefit the person you care for as well as you as their carer. It may also cover aspects that will benefit you directly such as training and support at a Carers Centre.

How can I request an assessment?

You can ask for a Carer's Assessment by contacting your local Social Work Department or Carers Centre. You can also drop in to your local Carers' Centre during opening hours to ask about this. Your GP, district nurse or health visitor can also request a Carer's Assessment for you. At the moment, due to COVID-19, no face-to-face assessments will be carried out for the time being and reassessments are temporarily on hold.

Legal considerations

If the person for whom you are caring may be losing the capacity to make their own decisions, it will be useful to find out more about Lasting Power of Attorney, as this will help you to protect their interests in the future. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, Health and Welfare, which will enable you to make decisions regarding the health and medical care of the other person; and Property and Affairs, which allows you to look after their finances, as well as make decisions regarding any property that is held in their name.

Things you can do now

Government resources for information on coronavirus:

National health services

Go to the NHS 111 coronavirus service

England

Read NHS England guidance

Northern Ireland

Read Public Health Agency guidance

Scotland

Read NHS Inform information

Wales

Read NHS Direct Wales information

ACAS

Read ACAS' advice for employers and employees

Carers UK

Find support where you live on the Carers UK website

Read about support for carers on the Carers UK website

COVID-19 Mutual Aid

Find local community groups on COVID-19 Mutual Aid