Carers' Rights Day: five things you need to know about carers' rights
Whether you're new to caring or been caring for many years, many carers are still left feeling clueless when it comes to their rights. To help you navigate the maze of services and entitlements, we've answered the top five questions carers ask us about their rights:
How do I get extra support?
If the person you care for needs more support, you can ask for help from your local council. The council will assess their needs and decide if they are eligible. The council will then make a care plan explaining how their needs will be met. Unlike the NHS, the person you care for may have to pay for some or all of their care, if they can afford it. This is worked out by a financial assessment.
As a carer, you can have a Carer’s Assessment of your own needs under the Care Act 2014. The assessment looks at your needs as a carer, how caring affects your life and what support you need. Read our guide to Carer’s Assessments to learn more.
Don’t want support from the council? You can also buy support from a care provider. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) www.cqc.org.uk has a list of providers and you can pick up a copy of the Croydon Care Directory at the Carers Support Centre.
Can I get any financial help?
Caring can put serious pressure on your finances. The main benefit for carers is Carer’s Allowance. This is currently £62.70 a week. However, not every carer is entitled to Carer’s Allowance. For example, you must earn under £116 a week, care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and the person you care for must receive certain disability benefits.
Some benefits, including State Pension, can’t be claimed at the same time as Carer’s Allowance due to ‘overlapping benefits’ rules. However, you may be able to receive what’s called an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance, which can boost other benefits.
Claiming Carer’s Allowance can affect the benefits of the person you care for, so it’s important to check before claiming. Carers UK has a guide to help you make the best choice for your circumstances. For more information on benefits, download our Money Matters factsheet.
If you are a carer in Croydon, the Croydon Welfare Rights Team provides benefits advice on 0800 731 5920. You can also call the Carers’ Information Service on 020 8649 9339, option 1, email email@example.com or visit the Carers Support Centre.
If you are struggling financially, you may be able to get a grant. This is usually a one-off sum of money to pay for something e.g. equipment. For a list of organisations that give grants, read our Grant-Giving Organisations factsheet or contact Turn2Us.
What are my rights to a break?
A break from caring can help you look after yourself as well as the person you care for. You can get respite (replacement care for the person you care for) through friends and family, a care provider or the council.
Help for Carers offers up to 50 hours of one-off free respite for carers of adults in Croydon who do not get any social care support from Croydon Council (020 8648 9677; firstname.lastname@example.org). If you arrange respite through the council, the person you care for will be financially assessed and may need to pay.
Your council must have a Short Breaks Statement explaining how carers of disabled children and young people can get a break. This includes after-school clubs and holiday clubs, but also care at home and in a short break centre for children with high needs. If you live in Croydon, contact the 0-25 SEND Team (020 8726 6400) for more information.
What are my rights at work?
If you have been in your current job for 26 weeks or more (with some exceptions, e.g. if you are an agency worker), you can ask for flexible working. You can ask once a year and it must be in writing. Your employer has the right to say no, but only for a good business reason.
Every employee also has the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work for an unexpected event that affects a dependant (child or adult). This legal right only applies to unforeseen events and the leave may be unpaid.
If you are facing difficulties at work because of your caring responsibilities, ACAS provides employment information and advice (0300 123 1100).
As well as your legal working rights, your employer may have additional policies to support staff who are carers. You may wish to speak to your HR department to find out what your employer offers. Croydon Working Carers Project supports carers juggling work and caring: 020 8663 5664.
I’m unhappy with the support I’m receiving. What can I do?
If you are unhappy with a service, you have the right to express your concerns. If you have concerns about a care package or a social care service, speak to the member of staff involved or their manager. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you may wish to make a formal complaint. Citizens Advice has more information on deciding whether to proceed with a complaint.
For care arranged by Croydon Council (even if you pay for it), complain to the Social Care and Housing Complaints Team (020 8726 6000 ext. 65685; email@example.com). If you arranged and bought the care yourself, complain to the care provider.
It’s a good idea to complain in writing. This means you have a record. Be clear and polite, explaining what happened, who was involved and what you would like to happen next. If you are unhappy with the response, contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (0300 061 0614; www.lgo.org.uk).
If you are unhappy with a Croydon NHS service, contact the PALS and complaints team (020 8401 3210; firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint, contact the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman (0345 015 4033; www.ombudsman.org.uk).
Healthwatch Croydon takes feedback from local people on health and social care services. Whilst they don't look into individual complaints, your comments can help influence local services in the future.
This article is a snapshot of what is available for carers. For more information, visit www.carersinfo.org.uk, call on 020 8649 9339, option 1 or visit the Carers Support Centre.