Are re you a carer?
If you look after your partner, or a relative or friend who is ill or disabled, you are a carer, even if you don’t think of yourself that way.
There are many ways that you might care for someone.
For instance you might:
- be on hand 24 hours a day to provide care
- arrange hospital appointments for someone
- drop round each day to keep someone company or cook their dinner
- visit a relative who lives far away once a month to see how they’re doing.
- Whether you’ve cared for the person for a long time, are temporarily helping them (for example, while they recuperate from an operation), or have just become a carer, take time to review your options and find out what support is available to you.
To establish your rights as a carer refer to Age UK on the following link
The Care Act comes into force in May 2015. It changes the way the social care system will work in the future.
You’ve probably heard about the biggest change: a care cap that means no-one will spend more than £72,000 of their own money on their care needs.
If you need care, or look after someone who does, you’ll need to know how care is changing.
Ways it may affect you from April 2015:
- You will have a right to a free needs assessment from your council, even if it thinks your finances are too high or your needs are too low to qualify for help.
- All councils will use a new national eligibility criteria to decide whether someone can get help from them.
- If you get social care support, you will now have a right to request a personal budget if you’re not offered one. This is a summary of how much the council thinks your care should cost. This might be useful if you want to pay for your own care. This will become more important when you have a care account from April 2016 (see below).
- If your needs assessment shows you don’t qualify for help from the council, they must advise you how the care system works and how to pay for your own care. So if you just need a hand with housework, for example, the council should assist you in finding this.
- You can defer selling your home to pay your care fees until after your death.
- If you’re paying for your own care, you can ask the council to arrange your services for you. It can only charge you as much as someone whose care they are funding.
- If you’re a carer, you have a legal right to a care assessment from the local council. You can also get support services if you qualify for them.
- If you find it difficult to communicate or to understand the issues being discussed, the council must provide an advocate to help you when discussing your care. They will represent your interests if you don’t have a friend or relative who can help
- The council must provide preventative services that could reduce or delay your need for care. For example, intermediate care at home after a hospital stay could help keep you independent for longer.
Ways it may affect you from April 2016:
- It becomes even more important to get a needs assessment, as the council will then set you up with a care account. This tracks the amount of money spent on your eligible care needs. The word ‘eligible’ is important as it only includes the needs covered by your assessment. So if you decide to hire a cleaner but the needs assessment doesn’t say you need this help, the cost of that won’t be included.
- There will be a cap on how much you have to spend on your care needs. Anything you or the council spend on your eligible needs will be added up in your care account. Once it reaches £72,000, the council will pay for all your eligible needs. This excludes your daily living costs, which include things like your food and accommodation in a care home.
- The council can reassess your care needs, even if you pay for your own care. This is because the council works out how much your care should cost to meet your eligible needs, and adds this up in your care account. It needs to check every so often that the amount it thinks you should be spending is still right.
- New rules about top-up fees in care homes mean you may be able to pay them yourself. Top-up fees may apply if you move into a care home that costs more than the council can pay.
- If you’re not happy about a decision, you have a new right to complain and appeal it, and for this to be independently investigated.
For more information:
Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565
To all carers
You can obtain local support at the Ealing Carers – details on a previous blog
When you’re caring for someone it’s easy to overlook your own needs. But looking after your health and making time for yourself can help you feel better and manage better with your caring role.
Tell your GP you’re a carer, and discuss the impact this is having on your own health. They will be able to offer you advice and support, and you may be entitled to additional health services such as a free annual flu jab if the person you care for has a serious or ongoing health problem.
Although it can be difficult, try to make sure that you eat healthily, stay active and get enough sleep.
Don’t feel like you need to do everything yourself. If you have relatives who live nearby, try to be honest with them if you need a hand or want to share the responsibility.
I’m Emotional health
Don’t overlook your emotional health. Family and friends, carers’ groups , your GP or counsellor, or organisations like Samaritans can all provide you with space to talk about how you’re feeling.
If you care for someone with dementia, it can be hard to share any feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion or anger with them, leaving you feeling isolated. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings, and remember there’s no right or wrong way to feel.
Your social life
It’s a good idea to take up a hobby or activity, such as going to an exercise group or an evening class, if you can. Taking part in an activity you enjoy will give you the opportunity to do something for yourself – it’s important that you have your own interests and make time to pursue them where you can.
Your local library can provide information about social activities, events, education and courses. The University of the Third Age (U3A) can also tell you about courses in your area.
Please refer to a previous blog