Q: Until my mother moved into a care home, I was providing care for her in her own home. Am I still classed as a ‘carer’?
A: Carers do not always identify themselves as carers, as they more often define themselves by their relationship to the person for whom they care. The word ‘carer’ can be misleading, as it can mean someone who simply cares about another person, regardless of relationship or whether the person for whom they care has any needs to be cared for. For example, one may care about the well-being of a friend or family member. The term usually refers to a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.
There are times when it is important to be properly identified as a carer as it gives some carers certain ‘rights’, such as
• entitlement to Carers Allowance and/or Carers Credit
• a social services assessment of the carer to support the cared for person where that person is living in their own home
• carers services to meet the carer’s eligible needs
• the right to be included in the assessments process of the person for whom they care
The Care Act 2014 defines a carer as meaning ‘an adult who provides or intends to provide care for another adult ‘ (section 10 (3)). An adult is not to be regarded as a carer if they do it under contract (i.e it’s their employment) or they are volunteers (section 10(9).
This means that for the Care Act purposes when a person moves into a care home, the family member is no longer treated as a carer as they are no longer providing care, which entitles them to an assessment of their needs or provision of services. They would also lose any entitlement to Carers Allowance and/or Carers Credit. Care workers in a care home are not treated as carers under the Care Act but are obviously providing care, but as it is in a paid capacity, they do not have any rights over the adult for whom they care and no right to Carers Allowance and/or Carers Credit.
The family member who is no longer a ‘carer’ or has never been a carer, but perhaps is interested in the adult’s care, can still be involved in any assessment and care planning, where the adult asks that they are involved or gives their prior consent or they are appointed to act under a health and welfare lasting power of attorney and the person who made the power no longer has capacity to make decisions.
Solicitor, TEP, Independent Consultant, author and trainer
Dementia Friends Champion