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January 2011



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An autism charity has called on the Department of Health to identify the exact number of families currently waiting for a carer’s assessment.

Autism NI says social services are ignoring the needs of parents whose children have autism and only an audit will reveal the true extent of the problem.

The BBC has learned that official figures fall short of the number of carers who say they need help.

Earlier this month, a High Court judge found the Western Health Trust had breached its duty to carry out assessments and provide services to carers of children with autism.

The case triggered hundreds of calls to local charities and the Children’s Law Centre.

According to most of these families, they were either unaware that as carers they were entitled to an assessment, or if one had been carried out, services such as respite care were not provided.

The Western Health Trust said on Monday that it was doing its best to meet the needs of families with autistic children.

Read in Full:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-politics-11348181


 NAS – Carer’s Rights

This page explains the financial and service support carers of people with disabilities are entitled to. It also provides guidance on flexible working and parental leave.

There are about 855,000 carers in Britain who provide more than 50 hours of care a week. Over half of these carers are in full-time or part-time employment and a quarter of them are retired. Providing such care has led to half of these carers developing their own health-related concerns.1

Since 1986, the UK Government has passed three acts that have increased the rights and recognition of carers:

  • Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986
    Says that where a disabled person is living at home and receiving regular care from someone who is not paid to do so, the local authority should look into whether they can provide any services to the disabled person. When making this decision, the local authority should consider the ability of the carer to continue providing care on a regular basis.
  • Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
    Acknowledges that carers are essential providers of services in the community. The act calls for an assessment of the ability of carers to provide care, allowing carers to express their views and concerns to social services about their caring needs. However, carer’s assessments are not carried out automatically; they must be requested by the carer. There are no age restrictions on who can have a carer’s assessment, so young carers can also be assessed.
  • Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 (CDCA 2000)
    Introduced the right for carers to have an assessment even where the person they care for has refused an assessment for themselves or refused services following an assessment. If the carers assessment identifies that the carer has an eligible need, the carer could receive services such as holiday trips, driving lessons, training courses, equipment such as a computer and help with laundry and housework. These services are usually provided to help the carer continue caring, and social services can place a payment charge or contribution for them.

1 UK Department of Health (1999). Caring about carers: A national strategy for carers.

How is a carer’s assessment carried out?

A carer’s assessment can been requested by speaking to the social worker of the person you care for, or by contacting your local authority social services department if you don’t have a specific social worker to contact. You can also request a carer’s assessment in writing (see Appendix 1 for a letter template).

Carer’s assessments can be carried out at the same time as the community care assessment of the person you care for.

The assessment looks at a carer’s ability and willingness to continue assisting a disabled person. It should look into any difficulties the carer experiences, either with actual tasks or due to their own health concerns etc, and whether the carer has work, education or leisure commitments that they want to continue with.

Once the social worker has completed the carer’s assessment, they will then decide what services need to be provided to (a) the individual and (b) the carer (under the Carers and Disabled Children’s Act 2000)

The social worker will then write up a care plan for the individual, outlining exactly how their care needs will be met by social services. If services are to be provided to meet the carer’s needs as well, this will be outlined in the care plan.

What type of services can a carer get?

If a carer is found to be eligible for services, the types of services they can receive include:

  • Respite (short break) so that the carer can take a break from their caring responsibilities. The individual may spend some time away from the home or the carer may spend time away, knowing that the person they care for is being looked after at home by care attendants provided by social services.
  • Under the CDCA 2000, social services will provide vouchers to the carer that can be redeemed for respite and short breaks when the carer wants or needs a break. The vouchers will normally be accepted by a number of agencies that are suggested by the local authority.
  • Carers can also receive direct payments to help pay for additional care services. If an eligible care need has been identified, these services could include:
    • trips (eg holidays or special events)
    • driving lessons
    • travel assistance (eg help with taxi fares)
    • training
    • laundry
    • gardening
    • help with housework.

What is Carer’s Allowance?

‘Carer’s Allowance’ is a benefit for people who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a severely disabled person. The carer does not have to live with or be related to the individual being cared for. It is not means-tested and does not depend on National Insurance contributions but it is taxable.

Find out more about Carers Allowance and how to apply at: www.autism.org.uk/19043

What is a carer’s grant?

As part of the 1999 National Strategy for Carers, the government created a carer’s grant that would be given to local authorities to improve and develop services that would give carers a break. The carer’s grant can be used in many ways by local authorities, such as by creating a carers centre or by awarding the carer with a lump sum of money that can then be used by the carer to arrange respite, a holiday for themselves or paying for leisure and education classes. Carer’s grants can be applied for through the social worker of the person being cared for.

Is there any help for carers who work?

Working and caring for someone can be difficult and stressful at times. Therefore whatever support an employer can give is always much appreciated. It’s up to you if you want your employer to know that you are a carer but in some instances telling them can lead to more support being offered, such as access to a telephone, a car parking space near work, unpaid or paid leave and the option of working from home. Some companies also offer counselling services to their employees. It is worth speaking to your line manager or personnel manager to see what services are available to carers.

As a legal right, carers of children or adults can now request flexible working hours from their employers to help them manage working and caring responsibilities.

Flexible working could be:

  • working from home or teleworking
  • job sharing
  • flexible start and finishing times (flexi time)
  • compressed hours (where you work your total number of agreed hours over a shorter period)
  • part-time work.

In order to request flexible working, you have to meet the following criteria:

  • be an employee who has worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks
  • be a parent of a child(ren) under six or a disabled child(ren) under 18 or
  • be a carer to a spouse, partner, civil partner or adult child, parent or relative. (Relatives include parents-in-law, adopted adult children, siblings (including in-laws), uncles, aunts, grandparents and step-relatives.

Although you have the right to request work flexibility, this does not mean your employer has to agree to it. However, they must seriously consider your application and can only refuse it if there are good reasons for doing so.

Read in Full:  http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/benefits-and-community-care/care-and-benefits-for-parents-and-carers/carers-rights.aspx

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