Caring can be a struggle and you may wonder whether any support is available. Emotional, financial and other pressures can all take their toll on your wellbeing.
It’s important to know that support is available from local councils and getting extra support by arranging an assessment of your needs is a good place to start.
The support could range from some extra practical help with household chores to gaining help with cover so that you can take a break every so often. You are also entitled to a review of your needs regardless of how much income or savings you have or whether you are working or not.
Here are some of the key tips we share with carers who are seeking support for the first time:
(Information Courtesy of carers.org February 2022)
So where do you start?
The first step is to contact your local council social services department to ask for a Carer’s Assessment.
How to get an assessment
If you haven't already had a needs assessment, contact social services at your local council and ask for one.
Ideally, this assessment should take place face-to-face. It's a good idea to have a relative or friend with you, if you're not confident explaining your situation. They can also take notes for you.
If the needs assessment identifies you need help to cope day-to-day, and a joint plan is agreed, you will then have a financial assessment (means test) to see if the council will pay towards the cost of care.
In most cases you will be expected to pay towards the cost.
Find out more about a needs assessment
Warwickshire County Council Information - Click here: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/needsassessments
Seeking help for the first time can sometimes feel like an uncomfortable step and sharing details about something so personal to you as your caring role can stir up a lot of different emotions.
It is helpful to keep in mind that your own needs for support are as valid as your partners.
Preparing in advance
Make notes on the support you currently have, the support you provide and the support you need, before your assessment and have these to hand during your assessment.
This exercise will help you ensure you cover all aspects without missing anything out. It is extremely helpful to keep a diary of the care you provide, to help the assessor understand the extent of your caring role.
Consider what your needs are right now and what your needs might be in future, including if you cannot continue, or need a break from, your caring responsibilities. You could write a list of things that you are no longer able to do as a consequence of caring, such as working, studying, cleaning your home, exercising, socialising, or maintaining a hobby.
Consider your own needs
You could ask what paid care options are available if you need to take time off from your caring role, for example to pursue a hobby or catch up with friends.
Whatever it may be, try to explain the level of care and support you can and are willing to give. Give as much detail as possible about the effects it is having on your life, both physically and mentally. If you are overcommitting yourself, don’t be afraid to say so.
Never feel guilty or ashamed for putting your needs forward. If you would prefer, you could speak to the assessor in private. Also let them know whether you expect your needs to change because of other responsibilities that you may have.
If Possible talk to your partner
If possible, try to have a conversation with the person you care for. If you feel comfortable, talk about your goals and wishes and ask for their view.
It may be a good opportunity to discuss, if appropriate, specifics about the social care they need now, or will need.
This discussion will help you work out any areas of worry or concern for both of you.
Would a joint assessment help?
It is possible to have a Carer’s Assessment and Needs Assessment (for the person cared for) carried out at the same time. One advantage is that it could save time as you wouldn’t have to re-explain your situation during another appointment.
If you both agree to this arrangement, you would need to specifically ask for it. Alternatively, you may prefer for them to be carried out separately at different times or on different days. Also, it is important to know that it is not necessary to have a Needs Assessment when having a Carer’s Assessment carried out, and vice versa.
Don’t hesitate to ask for another assessment.
If you feel that your needs are still not being met or if your circumstances
have changed, you can ask to be reassessed.
In reality, if social services are aware that your circumstances are likely to change, they are more likely to assess your needs over a protracted period either continuously or at intervals.
Your local council or trust should review your needs regularly, usually once a year, even if your circumstances haven’t changed.
NHS Information - Click here:
Social services support for dementia
The adult social services department of your local council can help with your personal care and day-to-day activities.
For example, social services may offer to provide:
carers to help you with washing and dressing
meals on wheels
aids and adaptations
access to day centres
It's a good idea to find out if you do need help by getting a needs assessment from social services. This assessment could identify needs you may not have considered.
A needs assessment is free and anyone can ask for one.
If the assessment shows you need help with everyday tasks, a person from social services will discuss this with you, and a relative or carer. Together you can agree a joint plan of needs and how these will be met.
The next step is a financial assessment (means test) to check if the council will pay towards the cost of your care.