Nine rights we have as carers that we may not know about

The theme for Carers' Rights Day 2020 is ‘Know Your Rights’. With so many new and increased caring roles in 2020, we're sharing some of the rights we have as carers that we may not know about during uncertain times.

1. A carers' assessment

A carers' assessment is a discussion with adult social services or a local carer organisation about your needs as a carer and what could make life easier. They're free and every carer over the age of 18 is entitled to one under the Care Act 2014. Carers assessments can recommend specific things for us in our caring role such as respite, benefits advice, training, access to other services and more. Don't forget we can also request another carer's assessment anytime if caring circumstances change.

Find out how other carers make the most of theirs here.

2. An annual flu jab

If we receive carers allowance or are the main carer for somebody who may be put at risk if we become ill, we could be entitled to a free annual flu jab. We can have your flu jab at our local doctor surgery or pharmacy. With the introduction of the vulnerable list relating to Covid, more people may be entitled to it this year, so it’s worth checking!

For more information on flu jabs, click here.

3. A home assessment / needs assessment

Whilst this may not strictly be a ‘carers right’, carers are entitled to request a needs assessment from the local council on behalf of somebody who needs help in order to manage at home. These assessments are free too and anyone can ask for one. Following a needs assessment, the local council can recommend and provide specific services, equipment or home adaptations such as access to day centres, changes to our home like a walk-in shower, equipment and practical help from a paid carer.

For more information on these, click here for the 'Carers First' article.

4. Recognition of our role as a carer whilst the person we care for is in hospital

Whilst this can vary from hospital to hospital, some ways we know that hospitals do this include; carers passports, (extended) visiting hours and involvement in decision-making and care whilst the person is in hospital. There is also support available for the transition out of hospital, either home or into another facility. This year, hospital care looks very different to what it used to and carers are navigating the systems and processes in place. In the Mobilise Community Facebook Group carers share their thoughts, questions and experiences to help us in this challenging time.

5. A break

This one is a right and a reminder; we are entitled to breaks! There are so many different types of breaks from a few hours to a break away. It can include sitting in services, day centres, care homes and supported holidays to name a few.

Note* - Local councils can fund these for those who have had an assessment which says they need it.

6. Other specific support for us and the person we care for

There are national and local schemes which we, as carers might be able to apply for. For example, utility companies have priority lists for vulnerable people should an emergency occur, like a power cut. The government also offer financial support in the form of a winter fuel payment, which carers can apply for on behalf of the person they care for. In some local areas they also offer a carers prescription, which is a one off payment to help us in our caring role. It can be used for driving lessons, bus passes, something for the home or a treat / break from caring and more.

Note* - For working carers, these are some of the employment rights that could relate to our caring role.

7. Not to be discriminated against

As carers we have the right not to be discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010. We cannot be discriminated against based on our association with somebody who has a disability, which is a protected characteristic. This means our caring roles cannot be the reason that we are treated less favourably than colleagues. This also applies outside the workplace.

8. Flexible working

Whilst this may not be a right applied to all carers, many employers are able to offer flexible working to their employees. This also extends to flexible working conditions such as allowing a phone on the desk or answering calls from the work phone. It can also include adjustments to work times and flexibility to allow carers to take the person they care for, to appointments. It’s worth speaking to our employer about what they are able to offer.

9. Time off work to care for dependents

One of our employee rights is time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. A dependent could be our child, partner, spouse, parent or someone else who depends on us to provide care. There is no set amount of time which we can take off, as it depends on the situation, but the law says that we’re allowed ‘a reasonable amount of time’. This can be paid or unpaid leave and will depend on the employer.

What's next?

We hope that we were all able to gain some valuable insights on our rights as unpaid carers that we may not have known. If this blog has been useful, please do share with someone who you think would benefit from this blog to spread the knowledge!

Further, you're always welcome to connect with our close-knit community of unpaid carers!