As your son or daughter approaches adulthood, responsibility for their social care will pass from children's services to adult health and social care services. This happens when a young person is 18 and legally an adult, although some areas have a period of handover between teams. Social workers may work jointly with you during this time.
The support your son or daughter will be offered as an adult will be determined by a community care assessment, or a Unified Assessment in Wales. Alongside this assessment, you as a carer are also entitled to an assessment in your own right – this is called a carer's assessment.
Even if your son or daughter hasn't received any social care services as a child, they may need support as an adult, and a community care assessment should be carried out in their final year of school to assess this. In some areas, you might find this assessment referred to as the Disabled Persons Act Assessment or DPA.
Make sure that social care services do the assessment in time so that you don't have a gap in support from when your son or daughter is a child and when they turn 18.
In England, the government has developed ‘Fair Access to Services' to allocate services and make sure people get the right support. There may be differences in eligibility for social care services between children and adults so you will need to check this with your local authority. When your son or daughter moves into adulthood, you may be charged for some services again, ask to see your local area's charging policy.
In Northern Ireland, each health and social service trust will have developed eligibility criteria to allocate services – ask to see a copy of your trust's criteria for allocating support.
As well as direct support for your son or daughter, you may also be in need of short break services. These are services that allow you to have a break from your caring role whilst offering your son or daughter a positive experience outside of the family home. This service might be at a specialist centre or out in the community, and it might be in the daytime, evening or involve overnight stays.
Mencap knows that overnight breaks can be especially important for carers with a son or daughter with a severe learning disability. It is therefore important that you try to emphasise this during your son or daughter's assessment and your own carer's assessment. If you have received short break services for your son or daughter when they were a child, then there should be a handover period when they move into adult services so that they can have time to settle in to a new environment.
Signing your assessment
Once an assessment has been carried out, don't sign it until you:
- have read it fully
- have questioned anything that has been written that you are unsure of or worried about
- have met with your social worker or care manager to discuss it
- have changed anything that isn't right, or have added extra information where necessary
- are sure that it is clear how much support you and your family need and how often
- are sure that it has covered all aspects of life: money, work, training, education, housing, health, social care and leisure.