"Thanks so much for all your help, advice, patience and effort from day one to today - I can’t imagine how this would have turned out without your skill and stamina."
- A son acting for his mother in a care fees dispute
"Your impact has definitely been felt by all involved, it’s efficient, intelligent and dynamic. I can feel that the opposing party are raising their standards, as soon as they hear from you."
- Sister of disabled man challenging care package
Carers are often society's most courageous and valuable asset but if you feel overlooked and are struggling with your role, you now have the right to support.
Studies have found that the value of unpaid care to the UK economy is as much, or more, as the cost of the entire NHS.
No wonder then that governments are keen to support carers to continue to volunteer their service. But for many carers it may not feel like that.
The key word here is volunteer. No adult has any legal obligation to look after another adult, even when they are married. Care is a gift and that gift should not be taken for granted.
The Care Act 2014
The Care Act 2014 represents a significant step forward for carers in England.
The Act provides a general duty to prevent carers from developing needs for support. This should involve the provision of services to provide general support to carers in their community.
For the first time local authorities have a duty, not just a discretionary power to carry out carers assessments and to meet carers' eligible needs.
The Care Act statutory guidance states that:
6.18 Carers’ assessments must seek to establish not only the carer’s needs for support, but also the sustainability of the caring role itself, which includes both the practical and emotional support the carer provides to the adult. Therefore, where the local authority is carrying out a carer’s assessment, it must include in its assessment a consideration of the carer’s potential future needs for support. Factored into this must be a consideration of whether the carer is, and will continue to be, able and willing to care for the adult needing care. Some carers may need support in recognising issues around sustainability, and in recognising their own needs. This will allow local authorities to make a realistic evaluation of the carer’s present and future needs for support and whether the caring relationship is sustainable. Where appropriate these views should be sought in a separate conversation independent from the adult’s needs assessment.
6.19 The carer’s assessment must also consider the outcomes that the carer wants to achieve in their daily life, their activities beyond their caring responsibilities, and the impact of caring upon those activities. This includes considering the impact of caring responsibilities on a carer’s desire and ability to work and to partake in education, training or recreational activities, such as having time to themselves. This impact should be considered in both a short-term immediate sense but also the impact of caring responsibilities over a longer term, cumulative sense.