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What rights do I have as a carer?
When social care services staff or their colleagues in health services assess the needs of the person you care for, they will also take into account your needs as a carer. As a carer, you have legal rights. These are explained below.
You have certain rights under carers' legislation if you are over 16 and:
If you are defined as a carer, as explained above, the Carers Acts will:
For example, if you are in poor health or are having difficulties caring for someone, this must take this into account. Similarly, we must take account of your wish to retain or gain access to; employment and training; emotional support; carers' registers and health checks by your GP; and increased choice and control.
Other local authorities such as health, education and district councils must now give due consideration to any request for assistance made by us on your behalf, following an assessment. This will be discussed with you at the time.
It is important to note that under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, carers are entitled to request an assessment in their own right, even if the person cared for is not known to the authority, or has refused services.
The Carers Acts
There are three Acts of Parliament which are especially for carers. They are:
Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
For the first time carers (of all ages) are given formal recognition. Carers are entitled to a carer assessment in their own right, providing the person they care for is being assessed or reassessed for services. Although this Act provides an opportunity for the carers situation to be considered, any services provided as a result of a carer assessment will be for the "cared for" person rather than the carer themselves. This Act defines a carer as someone who provides "a substantial level of care on a regular basis".
The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000
Most significantly, this Act enables carers to have their own needs assessed and receive services from local authorise in their own right, to support them in their caring role and help maintain their wellbeing. All carers over the age of 16 who care for someone over 18, are eligible to ask their local authority for an assessment of their needs, even if the person they are caring for chooses not to be assessed or to receive services. Parent carers caring for a disabled child can also request an assessment of their own needs.
The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004
This latest Act enhances the provisions of the1995 and 2000 Acts by requiring local authorities to inform carers that they may be entitled to an assessment. Carers must be informed of these rights before local authorities make any decisions about service inputs. When carrying out carer assessments, local authorities must also consider:
The Act also provides a formal basis for cooperation between local and other authorities in relation to carers. For example, a local authority will be better placed to seek participation of the NHS when deciding how to deliver services.