The Government says a carer is someone who "spends a significant proportion of their life providing unpaid support to family or friends. This could be caring for a relative, partner or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or substance misuse problems."
A relative, partner or friend of someone who has a mental health problem such as anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, manic depression (bi-polar disorder) or similar illness and who offers practical and emotional support to that person but is not paid in any way for doing (although some carers may receive Social Security benefit called Invalid Carer's Allowance). A carer can be a relative including son or daughter, friend or neighbour and may or may not live with the person that they care for.
A person who provides regular and substantial care to a person with a mental health problem is entitled to an assessment of their needs as a carer. This is sometimes called a Carer's Assessment (or more properly an Assessment of Carer's Needs). Addressing the needs of carers is one of the key standards that Sheffield Health & Social Care must meet to ensure delivery of modern mental health services. Carers are entitled to an assessment of their needs even if the person they are caring for is reluctant to receive services.
This means that a member of staff will sit down and talk with you about the caring role that you carry out, the impact that this has on your life, any difficulties that you have now or might have in the future in providing care for your relative or friend.
It is an opportunity for you to talk in detail about your role as a carer and any problems that you might have, including the help that your friend or relative receives from mental health services.
An assessment is not a judgement or test on your role as a carer
An assessment is not linked in any way with Social Security and will not result in you losing any benefits.
An assessment is not designed to lead to any reduction in the help that your relative or friend receives from mental health services.
Usually an Assessment of Carer's Needs will be carried out by the member of staff who is the Care Co-ordinator for the person that you provide care for. Occasionally another member of the care team will carry it out, but this should be someone that you already know. If you do not want the Care Co-ordinator to carry out this assessment then you can ask for someone else to do it.The person who carries out the assessment will meet with you separately from the person that you care for. They will ask you a series of questions about your caring role and complete an Assessment of Carer's Needs form. The outcome of an assessment will be a care plan, outlining how the mental health services can support you in your caring role, including what to do in times of crisis. Where possible the care plan will be linked with the care plan of the person you care for.
The Mental Health Services have a duty to offer you an assessment on an annual basis but you do not have to accept one if you would prefer not to. Carers will not lose any help or be penalised in any way for saying that you don't want an assessment. Carers needs should still be addressed.
If you do not wish to complete the full Assessment of Carer's Needs form but want to have a general discussion about your needs as a carer, then this should also be available to you.
National and local surveys of carers have shown that what most carers want is:
A Carer's Assessment of Need and Care plan can help to support carers better. It may also lead to some changes in the way services work with the person that you care for, by taking into account your needs as a carer. It can also result in carers being referred to, or given information about some of the other services that exist to provide support to carers.
It is easier to provide appropriate care if clients and carers are willing for information about them to be shared with each other. However for understandable reasons this is not always the case. An Assessment of Carer Needs and Care Plan will be recorded in the file of the person you care for, but is kept in a specific section and will not be shown to the person you care for without your permission.
The person you care for may not wish information about them to be disclosed to you. This cannot prevent you having an assessment of your needs but may limit the information that staff can share with you. If you do have any concerns regarding issues of confidentiality, then please discuss these with the person undertaking the assessment.
This information is available to download as a leaflet entitled "Are you a Carer?"
Carers' Clinics are organised by the Sharing Caring Project and take place every 6 weeks. They provide an opportunity for family carers to talk individually and in private to Anita Winter, Deputy Head of the Joint Learning Disability Service, or Louise Broddle, Team Manager, about any issues of concern to do with the care and support of an adult relative or friend with a learning disability.
The clinics run from 10:30am to 12:30pm at various venues. Click here to download the leaflet for more information about the clinics and for dates running through to December 2012.
Supporting Carers Better
The Supporting Carers Better Network (now part of Attend) was set up for all people supporting carers in mental health in England. It aims to identify and share good practice, and connect people.
mentalhealthcare.org.uk gives reliable and up-to-date information to relatives and friends of people with psychosis. The evidence-based website aims to help people in their caring role and is created by researchers and mental health professionals who work at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
The easy-to-navigate and regularly updated site provides information about different aspects of psychosis, treatment and care. Short, filmed interviews with health professionals and researchers complement the text and there are downloadable summaries of research about psychosis, written in plain English.
There are also pages where visitors can submit questions to a pharmacist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a social worker. Visit the site at www.mentalhealthcare.org.uk.
This page was last updated on 12th November 2012