Your rights as a carer and how to get help
Who is a carer?
Every year more than two million people in the UK become carers.
One in every eight adults in the UK is a carer.
Many people who look after family, friends or relatives, would not recognise themselves as a “carer”
You may be taking on a caring role for the first time and don’t know what to expect.
You could be any age, if you are looking after a relative, friend or neighbour who needs support because of frailty, illness, disability or a difficulty (such as an addiction) then you are a carer. Carers are unpaid. Being a carer brings its own rewards, but it can also be very hard work, both physically and emotionally.
No one likes to be labelled, however, recognising yourself as a “carer” can be the first step to getting the information, advice and the support that you need.
What are my rights?
Carers’ rights to an assessment
Under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, carers aged 16 or over who provide a regular and substantial amount of care for someone aged 18 or over have the right to an assessment of their needs as a carer.
If there is more than one carer providing regular care in your household, you are both entitled to an assessment.
Very occasionally, a 16- or 17-year-old who cares for someone for a limited period may be entitled to an assessment.
Oxfordshire County Council has a responsibility to make sure a young carers' own well-being is looked after and that they receive the necessary support.
If you have parental responsibility for a disabled child, your needs as a carer will be assessed as part of a family needs assessment. You have the right to a family needs assessment under The Children Act 1989. You do not need to be the mother or father of the child.
The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act
The act came into force in April 2005. It places a duty on local authorities to ensure that all carers know that they are entitled to an assessment of their needs, and to consider a carer's outside interests - work, study or leisure - when carrying out an assessment.
Carers and direct Payments
Direct payments are cash payments made instead of providing services directly, to someone who has been assessed as needing services.
Direct payments can be made to carers aged 17 or over.
There are some circumstances where direct payments are not given and Oxfordshire County Council can tell you about these.
Carers and employment rights
The Employment Act 2002 gives working parents of disabled children under 18 the right to request flexible working arrangements. Since April 2007, you also have a statutory right to ask your employer for flexible working if you are caring for an adult who is a relative or lives at the same address as you.
Carers also have the right to take (unpaid) time off work for dependants in cases of emergency.
Returning to work after being a carer may have an impact on any entitlements and benefits you receive as a carer. The amount of hours you do, how much you earn and your savings will be taken into consideration.
For more information about any of the above you can contact Carers Oxfordshire on 0845 050 7666 (see below for full contact details).
How do I get help with caring?
The first steps are outlined above; firstly to recognise yourself as a carer, and to be aware that as a carer you have certain rights.
You may be thinking about a number of issues on which you want information and advice.
Carers Oxfordshire is available to give information, advice and support to carers, and to signpost carers to other local and national organisations and services which can also help. More information is available here.
Remember…it is important to let your GP know you are a carer, so that your health needs as a carer can be taken into account.
Sometimes situations are stressful and complicated. Some people are particularly vulnerable to being hurt or abused because they have a disability, illness or impairment and need help and support. Sometimes their carers are vulnerable to abuse or neglect as well due to their youth, health or the relationship with the cared for person or pressures in the overall situation. This can result in isolation and problems being kept hidden from view. For more information:
- For adults see: www.safefromharm.org.uk or contact Oxfordshire County Council on 0845 050 7666
- For children see: www.oscb.org.uk or contact Oxfordshire County Council on 0845 050 7666
Making a complaint
If you are unhappy about any aspect of the support services offered to you or the person you care for, the best first step is often to talk it over with whoever is responsible for the service.
If you need help to make a complaint, there are local organisations to give you support and advice for general complaints and for health services – please see the accompanying fact sheet – for names and numbers.
Oxfordshire County Council – Social & Community Services – How to make a complaint – a leaflet is available.
If you are unhappy about an aspect of service provision to you as a carer (or to the person you look after), contact
Oxfordshire County Council Complaints Service:
- Complete an online form at http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/adultsocialcarecomplaints
- Tel: 01865 323589
- Email: email@example.com
- Or return the detachable section in the complaints leaflet
- Or write to Oxfordshire County Council, Social and Community Services Comments and Complaints Service, Freepost RRYR-XTBE-GBTZ, County Hall, New Road, Oxford, OX1 1ND.
There are a number of ways to get involved:
The Oxfordshire Carers Forum
Oxfordshire Carers' Forum is a group of volunteers, carers and ex-carers, who promote carers' interests, support their needs and ensure their views, are heard by voluntary, professional and statutory organisations. The Forum is Oxfordshire's only countywide independent voice of carers.
- Call on: 01235 520440
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Involvement Networks (LINks)
Give you the opportunity to influence local health and social care services. Oxfordshire LINk is made up of individuals and community groups who care about our health and social care services and work together to make improvements.
One of the aims of Oxfordshire LINk is to make sure your opinion is listened to about how local services are planned, developed and delivered. The group is independent of the NHS and the local authority.
Who can join?
Anyone can join - carers, service users, community leaders, and patient representatives - everyone's views matter.
Groups can also join to ensure the needs of their community are listened to.
There are many different ways to have your voice heard:
- LINk staff can come to meet your group
- You can register online: www.makesachange.org.uk
- Download and return the reply card (.pdf format, 1.5Mb)to our local office
- Call on 01993 862855
- Or email email@example.com
For more information about local and national contacts please ask for the accompanying fact sheet – New to Caring – Information & Advice to support your caring role.
Please feel free to contact any of the organisations on this factsheet yourself. If required, Carers Oxfordshire can also help you further. You can contact them on 0845 050 7666 Monday to Thursday 08:30-17:00, Friday 08:30-16:00;
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org