Caring can be a very demanding role and it can be easy to feel like the focus is anywhere but on you. However, your needs are important and that is where carer's assessments come in. They are used by social services to make sure you are able to cope with your caring role and maintain a good quality of life whilst doing so. A carer’s assessment involves an appointment with social services to discuss your needs as a carer and to provide support for you in your caring role. A care plan will also be drawn up to make sure that both your needs and the needs of the person you are caring for are being met.
Before your assessment takes place there are a number of factors you may want to think about. Firstly you need to decide if you are happy with the level of care that you are providing. It may be that you are taking on a lot purely because that is what needs to be done or it is what you feel is expected of you. If you feel it is too much or that you cannot cope it is important to let the social worker know as they can then look at ways of reducing the amount of time you spend caring or supporting you more effectively when are you are caring. You are not expected to take on caring work that you are struggling or unhappy with but the quickest way to resolving this is to let the social worker know. If you feel there are any ways in which your care needs are not being met then it may also be helpful to make a note of these before you have your appointment. Finally it can be useful to note down what you do as part of your caring role and how it affects the rest of your life.
The assessment can take place with the person you are caring for. If, however, you would feel more comfortable on your own or you have something you wish to disclose in private then you can request a separate appointment. If you feel you would like some moral support or perhaps someone to help speak up for you then you can also take an advocate or a family member/friend along with. If you are not able to cover everything you want to talk about then the social worker will be able to arrange for a follow up appointment to take place at a later date.
You can apply for a carer’s assessment through social services. In certain circumstances, such as when the person you are caring for is assessed, you may be offered a carer’s assessment without having to request it. However you may be in the situation where you need to actively seek an assessment. Once you have had your assessment the social worker will draw up a care plan to help support you. This will then be reviewed at least once a year to make sure you are still coping with your role. If you have not been caring for very long or if your caring role is challenging or complex then you may be reassessed more often.
Carer’s UK has an excellent section giving details on carer’s assessments here including a checklist to help you get ready for the assessment.