Advocacy for Carers
A carer is someone of any age whose life is restricted
because they are looking after a friend, relative, partner or
person who cannot manage without help, because of illness, age or a
disability of any kind.
Someone who is paid to undertake their caring role is
therefore not a carer, although some carers may be in receipt of
Invalid Care Allowance or in full time employment.
Carers fall broadly into 3 categories:
- Adult carers - an adult caring for another adult such as a
spouse, partner, friend or relative.
- Parent carers - an adult who cares for an ill or disabled
- Young carers - a child or young person who is carrying out
significant caring tasks and assuming a level of responsibility for
another person which would usually be taken by an adult. This may
be a sibling or a parent.
Carers are a valuable resource and their
contribution to community care far exceeds the combined efforts of
statutory and voluntary agencies. The continued health and well
being of carers is vital to the success of community care.
The impact of caring responsibilities on people's working lives and
on their income cannot be ignored. Many carers give up work or
reduce their hours of work to care. Many carers in paid work report
an impact of their own physical and emotional health as a result of
juggling a paid job with caring. Those carers who give up work to
care, face the prospect of lost earnings, and the subsequent impact
on savings and pensions, as well as the loss of skills in practice,
and the disadvantage they might face in trying to return to work
when caring ends.
Carers are also a source of important information as they are close
to day to day problems and experience first hand services provided.
They are therefore ideally placed to feedback vital information
regarding the effectiveness and quality of existing services, and
suggest ways of improvement.
Carers can also challenge assumptions and raise awareness of issues
facing people living and caring at home - they are therefore well
placed to influence planning and policies.
Working with and listening to carers will therefore enable all
agencies to make more effective use of resources. If the services
required are not provided, there may be short term savings, but
there will most definitely be additional expenditure in the long
The Children Act 1989 gives local
authorities the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of
children and is therefore relevant both to young carers and parent
carers of children with disabilities and special needs.
The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 built on previous
legislation and gives carers the right to ask for their own
assessment. Assessment is the key both to individual choice and
provision of appropriate support and is also integral to the
development of a systematic collation of carers' needs to support
service planning. It is therefore vital to ensure that carers'
needs are considered and recorded as part of any assessment.
However, the right to assessment was qualified by two main
- The carer must be providing "substantial care on a regular
- The person care for must also have an assessment for community
The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 now gives
carers the right to an assessment even when the disabled person
refuses an assessment. It also gives parents of children with
disabilities the right to request an assessment and empowers local
authorities to provide services.
Having listened to the carers view, the Local Authority must take
into account the result of the carers assessment when deciding what
services to provide to the person who is being care for.
It is clear that many carers are still not aware of their right to
a separate assessment. However, Department of Health guidance
clearly states that local authorities should offer carers the right
to a separate, confidential interview i.e. it is not incumbent on
the carer to ask.
The objectives of this Council are:
- To raise awareness of carers issues, and help to keep them on
the agenda of all relevant agencies.
- To set out key values and principles for services to carers in
the form of a local Carers Charter.
- To improve the quality and increase the availability of
information to carers.
To promote and support the appropriate involvement of
- Discussions and decisions around the individual care and
treatment plans of the people they care for.
- Monitoring the quality and standards of care and
- The development of strategies and services.
To identify and promote good practice across all
purchasers and providers of:
- Community Care and Children's Services
- Health Services
- Housing Services
Carers should have recognition:
- Of the value of their contribution to health and social care
for people in need.
- Of their differing needs as individuals.
- Of their needs for a range of practical and emotional
- Of their expertise and skills.
- Of the need to involve carers in monitoring services and the
importance of taking into account their experiences in the
evaluation of services.
Carers should have choice:
- Subject to their own cultural beliefs.
- On whether or not to take on or continue their caring
- On whether or not to become involved in the assessment of the
person they care for.
- To have an assessment of their own needs.
- To be consulted on and involved in planning services that they
and the person they care for receive.
- To use advocacy and mediation services.
Carers should have information:
- Which is coordinated and easily accessible.
- Which is available at all stages, especially before, but also
during and after caring.
- Which is available in a range of formats and languages.
- About all relevant services including housing advice.
- About charges, entitlements and welfare benefits.
Carers should be provided with appropriate
- Which promotes their good health.
- Through good assessment procedures, tailoring services to
- Which includes a range of good quality flexible services
planned with carers and including practical help such as laundry,
shopping, housework and sitting services. Which includes
opportunities for short and longer breaks.
- Which includes the development of greater range of innovative
and flexible respite services.
- Which includes counselling and support to deal with all aspects
of caring including the end of caring responsibilities.
The financial cost of caring should be
- By ensuring information and advice on benefits and entitlements
throughout caring is available.
- By keeping charges to a minimum, but without reducing quality
and quantity through carer sensitive practices by all employers
which allow carers to continue in paid employment.
- By providing advice about employment opportunities during and
Services and information should be
co-ordinated within and across agencies in order to best meet the
needs of carers:
- Carer sensitive policy and practice should be encouraged.
- Carer sensitive admission and discharge policies should be
developed in all hospitals.
- Wherever possible and subject to confidentiality and choice,
relevant information should be shared between agencies.
Carers should be involved in planning and
monitoring the services they receive:
- In order to properly reflect the differing needs
of carers and to take into account their culture, race, religion,
gender, age, disability or illness.
- Organisations should continue to explore creative ways to
involve carers in the planning process.
- Carers should be encouraged to express their views
about services they and person cared for receive.
- Carers views should be listened to and recorded.
- Carers should always receive feedback on their
contribution and what has happened as a result.