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Carers have the right to an assessment of their own needs

Marie Roulston, Director of Social Care and Children
Marie Roulston

By Marie Roulston OBE, Director of Social Care and Children

On Carers Rights Day (November 26) I want to focus on the importance of carers asking for a carer’s assessment.

The pandemic has made things particularly difficult for carers, their families and loved ones.

It is important that carers understand their rights and feel comfortable asking for help.

Under Northern Ireland legislation, carers have the right to an assessment of their own needs and to be considered for support services in their caring role.

Support services may cover things like; access to emotional health and wellbeing resources, the opportunity to meet other carers for a coffee and chat, or the chance to join walking groups or exercise classes.

On occasion, carers may also require additional financial supprt. That is just one of the many issues that are discussed as part of the carer’s assessment.

If you are a caring for someone and they are receiving services from a Health and Social Care Trust – for example attending a Day Centre or using domiciliary care services  –  then you are entitled to a carers assessment.

If you have had an assessment but your circumstances have changed, you are entitled to have it reviewed. Your key worker will complete the carer’s assessments or review your needs if they have changed.

To those people who have found themselves taking on a caring role during the pandemic, I would encourage you to make initial contact with the care coordinator in your local Health and Social Care Trust.

The care coordinator will talk you through the process involved. The assessment takes the form of a conversation between you and the Trust staff member to identify areas of need and then to agree relevant supports for you as a carer.

You can watch and listen to a carer, Dawn, explain what it like to go through the process here – https://vimeo.com/483507240

Information is freely available online. Go to the Health and Social Care website, or your local Trust website, or visit the NI Direct website to access the Advice for Carers document.

The information on the websites is updated regularly to provide carers with advice and signpost them to support services.

Finally, once again – please don’t struggle on your own, you are entitled to a carer’s assessment; please make use of this to get the support you may need.