How do I get help as a carer?
There are many different sources of support for you as a carer. In addition to your local council, these include:
- national organisations who provide a wide range of information via their websites
- local community and voluntary sector organisations who offer many different types of help
Local council support
Under the Care Act 2014 Essex County Council has a responsibility to assess a carer's needs for support, where the carer appears to have such needs.
An assessment will involve a conversation about you, your health, and your well-being. The council will assess whether you need help to stay healthy, or do the things you'd like to do. The assessment will consider the impact of caring on your day-to-day life, and will consider the things that you want to achieve. Other important issues will also be considered, such as whether you are able or willing to carry on caring, whether you work or want to work, and whether you want to study or do more socially.
When the assessment is complete, the council will consider your situation in according to the national eligibility criteria for carer support.
When can I request a carer's assessment?
You can ask for a carer's assessment whatever stage you may be at in your caring role.
Can I ask for help more than once?
The council recognises that the role of a carer changes over time. You can therefore contact them again to explain that things have changed, and that your support may need to be re-assessed.
Can I have a carer's assessment if the person I care for does not currently get help from the council?
Yes if the person you care for lives in Essex. You can also ask for an assessment for the person you care for if you want to.
What if the adult I care for doesn't want to have contact with the council?
The person you are caring for doesn't have to be known to the Council. You can still contact them to discuss your situation and support needs.
I share my care responsibilities with other family members/friends. Can all of us have a carer's assessment?
Everyone who gives unpaid care and and has some need for support can request an individual carers assessment. They do not have to be done together, but sometimes it will be better to do a combined assessment.
The person I am caring for will not agree to a needs assessment themselves. Could I still be offered support as a carer?
You don't need the permission of the person you are caring for to request a carer's assessment. You are entitled to ask for one in your own right.
If after my assessment a short break is recommended, who will pay for the cost of the services that cover me?
Each person's situation is different. The cost would either be covered by the council, or a contribution would need to be paid by the person receiving the care. You as a carer cannot be charged for any support provided directly to the person you care for, even if it helps you take a break.
Will I be asked about my finances?
Support to carers is not means tested, and Essex County Council has made a decision not to charge carers for support services. As part of the assessment we may talk to you about the impact that caring has on your financial position, and there may be some benefits you are entitled to claim. Find out more about this in our Carer Benefits section.
Essex Carers Strategy
Over the last 2 years, Essex County Council and the NHS have worked together with carers who live in Essex to develop a new approach for supporting carers, and the result is the Carers Strategy 2015-2020 This strategy tells you what the council and NHS are going to do for carers, and the changes they would like to see over the next five years.
A new free service is now provided by Essex County Council in collaboration with Action for Family Carers and Age UK Essex. This online service helps family, friends, and volunteers come together to support a loved one who may be in need of some support at home. If you are caring for someone, you can set up an online network of people who can all chip in and help with different jobs. Together you can all list the different things which need doing, and work as a team to make sure your loved one gets the help they need. You can also receive text or email reminders and notifications when tasks are completed. This service can really give peace of mind to loved ones, and can make it easier for someone to ask for, or offer help.
For more information, and to watch a video about how this works, visit the Essex Rally Around webpage. If you need help getting started, you can also contact one of the organisations supporting the service by filling in the online form on the enquiry page.
Caring for mental health issues
If you have a family member or friend who is struggling with their mental health, you may have a lot of questions about diagnosis, care, and treatment. The Royal College of Psychiatrists have a useful online checklist which covers many of the questions psychiatrists often get asked by carers. This is a really useful resource for anyone wondering how to support their loved one, and help them find support for themselves and the person they care for.
Mind has a great section on their website called How to Cope When Supporting Someone Else. These pages detail how to best support the person you care for, and give guidance on how to balance your life with your caring role. There are many organisations that support carers, as it is important to make sure you are looked after as well.
Other information and advice
The NHS has partnered with Public Health England, Carers UK, Carers Trust, and Age UK, to produce a guide for carers called A Practical Guide to Healthy Caring. This guide is for anyone looking after a family member or friend, or who has some kind of caring responsibility. It covers a wide range of subjects from what it's like to care for someone, to assessments, getting help, and useful technology.
The Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) has some useful resources for carers, and provides free courses across Essex which help carers manage their caring role. For further information visit the Support for Carers page on the EPUT website.
Essex Libraries offer a variety of services and activities that may benefit carers. If you find it difficult to get to the library, you could receive the Home Library Service, or ask about a Friends and Family card. Alternatively, access e-books, e-audio, e-magazines and online resources at a time to suit you, from wherever you are. Many libraries hold regular drop-in sessions, advice desks and social activities; have a look at the events list for the latest information. Libraries also have booklists that you might find useful if you are caring for someone with dementia, mental health problems or long-term conditions.
Healthwatch Essex has some advice young carers might find useful, in their guide to health and well-being for young people. The Useful contacts button on that page has a good list of local and national organisations that are keen to support young carers.
You may also find our pages about Equipment to Help at Home and Technology for independent living useful if you are looking for gadgets and equipment for the person you care for.
You can also see more detailed information about the recent changes for carers in the Care Act fact-sheets published by the Department of Health. These provide an overview of The Care Act, and describe the duties and powers of councils to carry out the changes.
For further information, a detailed guide to care and support is available on the NHS Choices website.
Carers UK is a charity set up to help the millions of people who look after an older, disabled, or seriously ill family member or friend.
Carers Trust has information about local support, money and benefits, and is a place where carers can chat to one another online about their experiences.
Local community and voluntary sector groups
There are many local voluntary sector organisations supporting carers in Essex, which provide support, help, and advice. Support can range from general information and advice, to emotional and practical support, and specialist support for particular conditions.
Supporting Carers in Essex is a partnership of registered charities, working together to support unpaid carers of all ages across Essex. They provide a single contact point for carers. The partnership can offer you advice and help including:
- practical and emotional support, information and advice
- crisis and contingency planning
- volunteer led counselling
- specialist support when the person you care for is admitted to hospital, or you are looking after somebody with a terminal diagnosis or during end of life
- Carers Rapid Response service providing breaks for carers in crisis
- young carers secondary school-based support for carers aged 11 to 18
- young adult carers transition support for carers aged 16 to 24
Contact Supporting Carers in Essex via tel: 03007 708090, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Agents Essex can support you if you are caring for someone who is becoming increasingly frail. This scheme can help with information and advice on support which is available locally, but can also help you access equipment and adaptations to help keep you independent in your own home for longer. Community Agents Essex can be contacted via tel: 08009 775858 or 01376 574341, or by email: email@example.com.