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Carers Assessments - My experience

Is it time for a carers assessment?

I’ve been caring for my husband with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease for 16 years but I have never had a carers assessment. I was aware that I might be entitled to one (Care Act 2014)

“A carer’s assessment is for carers over 18 years old who are looking after another adult over 18 years old who is disabled, ill or elderly. It is an opportunity to record the impact caring has on your life and what support or services you need. The assessment will look at for example, physical, mental and emotional needs, and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring.” Find out more from Carers UK

What do other carers say?

I took the opportunity to ask other carers on Twitter and The Mobilise 1000 Facebook group about their experiences. The response was very mixed, some had one annually, others had never heard of it and a few had negative experiences, finding their carers assessment to be unhelpful or even being refused.

So I had a go!

Curious to know what my experience would be and what was available in my area I started the process. Starting with my county council website I logged a request. I received a voicemail message a couple of days later, phoned back and had a chat with Greg.

It was reassuring to talk to someone, I felt listened to and Greg helped me work out if I needed a carers assessment at this stage or if some next steps, information and signposting was more relevant. At the time my caring role wasn’t having a big impact on me, my wellbeing was good but I want to be prepared for the future, so we agreed it was the latter.

My key take-aways:

  • Informed about the “Take a break service” - up to 3 days of respite care, no charge for this service

  • Reminded about our local carers hub and emergency care planning - through Carers Trust - I’ve already signed up for this

  • Directed to the Hampshire website and highlighted “Ask Sara” who help with equipment that might make caring easier

  • Explained Financial Threshold is currently £23,250 (i.e. if you have savings over this amount you will need to pay for your own care

  • Reassured about the future. My husbands care needs will increase and I want to plan for the future, what if we have used up all our savings to pay for care, we own our own home, which our children also live in. Care won’t be funded by our home.

I think I already had worked most of this out by looking online, although I had not pinned it down to these key points. I feel more in control and reassured that I can pick up the phone and start the process when needs change. I was encouraged not to leave things to the point of carer breakdown and to get in touch if things were stressful, difficult or my health was impacted. “Don’t be a stranger” said Greg.

Could this experience be even better?

I’ve since learned that some Local Authorities and Carers Centres take a more proactive approach and offer a Carers Assessment as soon as a carer gets in touch. This approach could identify the hidden impact of caring that the carer themselves may not be aware of. The words “Carers Assessment” can be quite off putting and simply calling it “a conversation about you and your needs” is a much friendlier approach.

“Be aware that a well-conducted carer’s assessment may in itself be a therapeutic intervention or a means of preventing future problems.”

Advice for other carers?

Your situation may be similar or very different - we are all unique. I think I would at least find out what the process is to have a carers assessment in your area, make contact, have a chat and check you have all the info and support you need for now. The person you are caring for can also be assessed for support, the two assessments can be combined, which might make sense if you have similar thinking about how you want to be supported. I’d love to hear how you get on so don't hesitate to get in touch. Or join our facebook community of unpaid carers to share your experiences.

What next for me?

Life has changed since my first conversation with Greg, the impact of a change in my husband’s symptoms and side effects of medication had snuck up on me. Being referred to consider what future treatments are available forced us to face up to the long term reality of his condition and my role as his carer (wife and best friend too!). So I’ll give Greg another call and ask for a Carers Assessment.

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