The support that carers give to their loved ones should be immensely valued by councils and not taken for granted. The council has a legal duty to provide support to cover the shortfall if carers are no longer able or willing to provide the same level of care, so it is in their interest to support carers as best they can to ensure they are able to carry on providing the care they voluntarily give. This support could be in the form of respite services or short breaks.
When drawing up a care plan the council should include any support given by carers, but they should also include contingency plans for any changes that might occur, for example the carer being unable or unwilling to continue providing care. The council cannot expect that carers will provide the same level of care indefinitely and the duty to meet the person’s needs always rests with the council, so the council must be prepared to provide the care currently given by the person’s carer if necessary.
Carers are also entitled to an assessment in their own right, even if the person they care for does not receive social care services from the council. Carers could be entitled to respite services or other support, so they should always ask for an assessment. A carer should not be placed at a disadvantage, in terms of finances or health, because of the care they provide, so the council must take into account whether a carer works or is in education or training, or would like to do any of these things. If circumstances change, for example the support a person gets is reduced, this will change things for their carer too, so the carer should ask for a reassessment.
The support is often out there, but if the council does not listen and refuses to provide a carer with support, they should complain. For information on how to complain see the Making a complaint section.