LEGAL EAGLE: Act gives carers legal rights

Carers Week
Carers Week

It is over a year since the Care Act came into force on April 1, 2015. This set out the law relating to the provision of social care and sought to provide more equality across different local authorities. It gave carers a legal right to services of their own for the first time. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of carers remain unaware of the changes introduced by the Care Act and the services that may be available to them.

The last Census (2011) showed that there are over 6.5 million carers in the UK. Estimates on the value of care vary but according to Care UK unpaid, informal care is worth around £1.9 billion per year.

A carer is defined as an adult who provides or intends to provide care for another adult. This includes provision of care to a family member or friend. The type of care given can include both practical and emotional support.

The support available to carers is broad. It may include extra support for the adult with care needs in order to provide the carer some free time and avoid carer exhaustion. It can also include specific support for the carer themselves e.g. help with access to education.

A carer’s assessment must consider the carer’s ability and willingness to continue to care for the individual and the carer’s other roles and responsibilities. The assessment should consider the impact of the caring role on the carer’s ability to access work, education, training and recreational activities. If the assessment finds that the carer has needs for support then the local authority has a duty to plan for how this support will be provided.

A local authority is under a duty to consider a carer’s assessment where it appears to them that a carer may have a need for support, either now or in the future. It therefore should not be necessary to formally request a carer’s assessment. However, our experience is that local authorities appear no more proactive about assessing the needs of carers than they were prior to the implementation of the Care Act. If you are in doubt about whether you would be eligible for services, you should contact the adult social care team of the local authority and request a carer’s assessment.

Although the Care Act specifically deals with adult carers of adults with care needs, local authorities are also obliged to assess the support needs of young carers and parent carers of children with care needs in similar circumstances.

l Carers Week 2016 takes place between June 6-12. Ben Hoare Bell LLP has several Solicitors that specialise in the new and complex Care Act. If you have any questions about the Act please contact our Solicitors on 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more information.