Who is a carer?

  • Do you look after a family member, partner, neighbour or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, mental health, substance misuse problems or disability?
  • Does someone rely on you to help them live at home?
  • Is the care you give unpaid?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a carer?

If you regularly spend time and energy looking after a disabled or frail adult or child, then you are a carer.

There are around seven million carers in the UK – that is one in 10 people.

By coordinating with the services provided by healthcare professionals, carers look after our service users in their homes, helping to avoid hospital admissions.

The economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is £132bn a year.

Looking after someone else is often hard work, can be stressful and may affect your own health and well-being. We value the input that carers make and support them with information about:

Rights and Help for carers

Looking after someone else is often hard work, can be stressful and may affect your own health and well-being. We value the input that carers make and support them with information below.

Remember that it is important that your general practitioner (GP) and any other health service provider knows that you have caring responsibilities; contact your surgery to register yourself as a carer.

Carer Assessment

Carers’ assessments

Anyone who provides unpaid regular and substantial care is entitled to have a carer’s assessment. This is an assessment of their own wellbeing and how caring has affected them.

You are entitled to an assessment of your needs as a carer, even when the person you support refuses to use the services they need and whether or not you live with the person you support, whether they are a relative or friend, how many hours each week you support them, as long as you are giving them ‘regular and substantial’ care:.

An assessment should happen at least once a year, and when there are any major changes to your circumstances or those of the person you care for.

How to get your carer’s assessment
Staff supporting the person you care for, usually the care coordinator should talk to you about an assessment. You can request an assessment from:

The care coordinator or treatment team, the local social services department, your (GP – we can make a referral for a carer’s assessment)

If the person you support only sees a psychiatrist (for example every six months), the community recovery team is responsible for arranging the carer’s assessment.

How your needs will be assessed
When you have an assessment you will be asked whether your health has been affected by your role as a carer, you need emotional support, you are currently working and wish to continue working, you have social support (friends/family), you need any information about benefits, you enjoy any leisure activities, you are able to get out and about.

Carers’ assessments aim to identify what support you may need, and to arrange ways for meeting those needs (a carer’s support plan). This is to help prevent you from becoming isolated in your caring role.

If you have communication or language difficulties, we can arrange for an interpreter or signer to support you. You can also be supported by a carer support worker or advocate if you wish.

If you live in a different borough to the person you support, it is the responsibility of the health or social services team where the cared-for person lives to arrange the carer’s assessment.

If you have difficulty getting an assessment, contact the care coordinator of the person you care for contact your local carers’ centre, or get advice from a mental health charity such as Rethink.

If you are providing support to someone with a learning disability, Mencap can provide more information on support for carers.

What happens next?
After the assessment, you should receive a written support plan setting out how any identified needs will be met. Local services may vary but could be provided directly to the person you care for to give you a break.

Sometimes a charge is made for some types of service, but this will be discussed with you before any services are provided.

Some services might be provided by local voluntary organisations or private agencies that can help you. Social services have also introduced ‘personal budgets for carers’ which allow you to buy the service yourself. To find out more about personal budgets, contact your local social services department and ask to speak with the personal budgets advisor.

It is important your needs as a carer are met, both for your own sake, and for the person you care for. Caring can be a lonely and isolating experience, and maintaining outside interests and social networks helps to balance caring with your own needs.

Carers’ Rights

Carers’ rights

The important role that carers have in service users’ care and recovery is established in law and aims to support carers’ rights to help them to continue in this role.

In addition to supporting carers in informing them of their right to receive a carer’s assessment and support plan, carers will also:

  • Be offered a rapid response in an emergency situation
  • Be treated with understanding and respect
  • Be taken seriously when expressing concerns
  • Be provided with information on methods of complaint
  • Be helped with the difficulties of caring for a relative or friend
  • Be informed of the range of relevant services and support available for carers
  • Be encouraged to take time out when required, to prevent ‘burnout’ or to cope with stress
  • Be included in care planning, implementation and review
  • Know the names of the members of the support team
  • Be consulted about a relative or friend’s discharge plan
  • Be helped with problems created or made worse by caring for a relative or friend with a mental illness
  • Be provided with information about the condition, treatment and possible side effects of medication
  • Be provided with information if this is in the best interest of the patient and other members of the family
  • Be offered culturally accepted treatment options, which are inclusive of the family

Receive a service that recognises the importance of family, friends and carer involvement in service planning, implementation and evaluation

How are Carers protected under the law in England?

Equality Act 2010 – protection from discrimination
Care Act 2014 – right to carers’ needs assessment
Children and Families Act 2014 – young carers and young adult carers
Employment Rights Act 1996 – flexible working (if same employer for 26 weeks)

The Carers Trust has information covering how carers are protected by the law.

Respite for carers: taking a break

Respite for carers – taking a break

Respite is any kind of support or activity that gives you a break from caring. It is very important as it helps you to enjoy things as an individual, reducing the stress of the caring role. Whatever kind of respite you are thinking about, it is important that you discuss your plans with the person you care for.

Here are some examples of what respite can mean:

  • A short break
  • Attending a course
  • Complementary therapies
  • Joining a local reading group
  • Volunteering
  • Personal budgets for carers

Social services departments are introducing personal budgets for carers, where services that have been identified through the carer’s assessment process can be bought by the carer. Personal budgets can give people greater control and flexibility in the support they receive. Contact your local social services department or carers’ centre for more information or see NHS: choosing your own support.

Short breaks
Some local authorities offer short breaks to carers. This could mean the person you support going to stay at a local respite centre, to give you a break from caring, or it may be possible for you to go away on holiday. The amount of time needed will be assessed to suit you and the person you care for. Contact your local carers’ centre for information.

Befriending services
Regular visits from a friend or befriender can allow you a break from caring. Befrienders are services usually provided by voluntary organisations and may need a referral from the care coordinator.

Domiciliary care
This covers different types of care and support to give you a break from caring. It might mean a paid care worker taking over the caring responsibilities for an agreed period of time each week, or a community support worker providing support to the cared-for person for an agreed period of time.

Brent Social services: what they do and cannot do

Social Services work within a statutory framework under the Care Act 2014 which determines what they can and cannot provide and how they assess eligibility to ensure consistency from one area to another.

Their main aim is to assist people to live independently in their own homes by providing support, information and advice with a focus on prevention. Care is built around the user’s strengths, needs and what their wishes are.

LB Brent is responsible for anybody ‘ordinarily resident’ in the borough or any Brent resident in temporary placement in another borough (but is not responsible for any resident temporarily placed in Brent who is normally resident in another borough).
Any services provided are chargeable and if provided, a financial assessment will be made. Currently if you have capital, savings or investments worth more than £14,250 you will be required to contribute towards the cost of your ‘care package’.

To get help or advice from Social Services Tel 0208 937 4300 (out or hours emergencies 0208 863 5250)

If your needs come within the eligibility criteria, you will be assessed. (The majority of calls get advice and guidance)

  1. Assessments of eligibility under the Care Act 2014
    Needs may include physical, mental, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, substance misuse or social.
    Assessment takes into account:
    a. managing and maintaining nutrition
    b. maintaining personal hygiene
    c. managing toilet needs
    d. being appropriately clothed
    e. being safe in the home
    f. maintaining a habitable home environment
    g. developing and maintaining family and other relationships
    h. accessing work, training or education or volunteering 
    i. making use of local resources- transport, recreation, services
    j. carrying out responsibilities or any caring for a child.
  2. If the eligibility criteria are met, a more specialised assessment is made, including:
  • Occupational Therapy (complex needs, equipments, adaptations),
  • Learning disabilities support planning, Re-ablement (for up to 6w to help get people back to their level of functioning),
  • Long term Support (where no re-ablement is possible).

3. A review of needs and services takes place every 12 months.

Other care services:

  • Safeguarding concerns tel 0208 937 4098 or email Abuses and dangers includes Physical, psychological, sexual, financial, discriminatory, organisational, neglect, domestic, modern slavery, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) More details on safeguarding in Brent
  • Mental health services are provided by CNWL (Tel: 0800 0234 0650 for 24hr help and advice, including Adult mental health, Older person’s services, Community Mental Health services, Talking therapies). Though not a service directly run by Brent they do work closely together.
  • Drugs and alcohol services – New Beginnings is an integrated service between Brent and WDP in conjunction with CNWL and offers support for users and carers.

Other sources of help include:

The Brent Carers’ Centre

The Brent Carers’ Centre offer a confidential information, advice and support service to all Brent carers, who care for someone with a mental health condition or a type of dementia. We also support Young Adult Carers. If you need help please Tel: 0203 802 7070

The Gateway to Support Services Hub 

The Gateway to Support Services Hub delivers social care services and statutory advocacy for Brent residents.

Our aim is for people who need additional social care support to lead full and active lives where they are supported to be independent as far as they can be. We also want people to have to choice and control over the support they receive. Tel: 020 3948 0600

Brent Adult Social Services

Brent Adult Social Services. For as assessment, planning and delivery of personal care and advice. Tel: 020 8937 1234

Carers UK 

Carers UK – loads of information and videos and online forum. Tel: 020 8937 1234

Helpline (Mon & Tues 10:00 -16:00) Tel: 0808 808 7777