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If you care for another person, you can ask for an assessment of your needs to see if you are eligible to receive support. This is called a carer’s assessment.

Following the implementation of the Care Act 2014 on 1 April 2015, carers' rights were extended so that more carers in England can receive carer’s assessments and support.

On this page you can find information about:

1. Who is eligible for a carer's assessment in England?
2. What support can I get from the carer's assessment in England?
3. The carer’s assessment elsewhere in the UK

Who is eligible for a carer's assessment in England?

If you are over 18 years of age, and providing care for someone who is over 18, you are entitled to get a local authority carer’s assessment. It doesn’t matter how much care you provide or what your financial situation is. If your life is affected by your caring responsibilities, and you have a need for support, you should be offered a carer’s assessment. The assessment will review your needs and decide if you are eligible for any help or support.

There are three questions that the local council will need to consider when making their decision.

1. Are your needs the result of you providing necessary care?
2. Does your caring role have an effect on you?
3. Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?

If the answer to all three questions is yes, you may be eligible for help and support.

As a carer, you are entitled to a carer’s assessment regardless of whether the person you are looking after has had their own needs assessment or is eligible for support.

Although you are entitled to a separate carer’s assessment, if you feel it would be easier to combine your carer’s assessment with a needs assessment for the person you are looking after, then the local authority can carry out a combined assessment, as long as everyone agrees to this.

The carer’s assessment, whether carried out jointly or separately, will assess:

  • the level of care that you are willing and able to provide
  • if you are providing 'regular and substantial amounts' of care
  • the impact on your life, such as on your work, education and leisure time.

If you have needs that meet the criteria set by the government, your local authority has a legal duty to meet those needs, subject to financial assessment.

What support can I get from the carer's assessment in England?

If, following your carer’s assessment, the local authority decides that you have 'eligible needs’, it must offer help and support to meet these needs. It might provide help and support in a variety of ways. For example, it might provide alternative care for the person you are caring for so that you can take a break, or practical or financial support directly to you to reduce any negative impacts of your caring role.

Some local authorities will carry out a financial assessment following your carer’s assessment, to see whether you will need to pay anything towards any help and support it has offered directly to you. However, some local authorities offer help and support to carers free of charge. If a financial assessment is carried out, it will follow the same procedure as if it were a financial assessment of the person you are caring for: see our information about the financial assessment for care at home.

Practical support - for the person you are looking after

If you need a break from caring, you might be offered alternative care such as: 

  • A sitting service, when someone can sit with the person you are looking after to supervise them for a while.
  • Respite care for the person you are looking after, such as visits to a day care centre or a short period in a residential home, so that you can take a break or have a holiday.

Even though alternative care is provided to benefit you as a carer, it’s technically a service for the person you are caring for. This means that the person you are looking after will be financially assessed (if they haven’t already been as part of a needs assessment) to see whether they need to contribute towards the cost of the alternative care.

Practical support - for you

As a carer, you might be offered practical support such as:

  • A carer’s training session, maybe in lifting and handling techniques.
  • Gym membership and leisure classes to help relieve stress.
  • Computers training and other courses to aid starting or returning to paid work.
  • Taxi fares, if you don't drive, to help with travel.
  • Help with domestic routines, such as gardening and housework.

Services can be provided by the local council itself or through a third party, or alternatively you can request direct payments, which allow you to buy the services.

Financial support

If you spend a certain number of hours caring for a relative or friend, you might be entitled to carer's allowance or carer's credit. Read our Benefits for carers guide to find out more.

The carer's assessment elsewhere in the UK

The carer’s assessment differs slightly across the UK. If you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, find out more by downloading the relevant factsheet below.

Which? guide to helping loved ones in later life

If you are looking for ways to help a relative stay living at home for longer, or need to find out about the different care options available, this downloadable guide explains your choices and how to find out more. It offers an introduction to choosing sheltered or residential care, plus advice on choosing the best products to aid independent living.

More information

  • Benefits for carers: government support you might also be entitled to.
  • Respite care: find out about the care options that are available to give you a break from caring.
  • Care services directory: if you are looking after someone with dementia, our directory tells you about support groups in your area.
  • Carer’s UK factsheet: more information about the assessment and eligibility criteria.

Page last reviewed: July 2017
Next review due: January 2020