If you have an elderly relative who increasingly needs looking after and you’re responsible for sorting out their care, you must first decide where they are going to live. The options are that they:
If you decide to shoulder the caring burden yourself, there is help – financial and otherwise – that you might be entitled to from your local authority and other bodies. Financial help could include:
Every carer has the right to an assessment by their local social services department. This will ascertain what services you might be entitled to (if any) to help support you in your carer role. As well as the financial benefits outlined above you may be able to get emotional support and practical help such as breaks, help with cleaning, equipment or alterations to the home. To prepare for the assessment, list everything you do for the person you care for and what effect the caring has on you. Someone can accompany you to the assessment which can be carried out at your home or at the home of the person you’re caring for.
After the assessment is carried out, the local authority will examine both this and the community care assessment of the person you care for, and will come up with a care plan outlining the help they are prepared to provide. Your income and capital will be taken into account in deciding which care services, if any, you may be charged for.
If you work and also care for an elderly relative you have the right under the Employment Act 2002 to ask for flexible working arrangements which your employer must consider. Flexible working arrangements could include: working from home; flexible starting or finishing times; compressed working hours; job-sharing or part-time working; or flexible holidays. You’re also allowed to take time off work – albeit unpaid – if there’s an emergency.
Going back to work after acting as 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 account.
Local authorities have a duty under the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 to ensure that all carers are aware 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. If you’re not happy with the way the assessment was carried out, or you don’t think you’re getting the support and services you need, go through the complaints procedure at your local social services department.
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