Mental health: ethnic minority carers’ experiences

Carers' assessments

The law says that everyone who spends time caring for someone has the right to have their needs assessed by social services. This is the case even if the carer works or lives separately from the person she or he cares for. The purpose of the assessment is to find out what support carers need to balance caring with life, work and family commitments. But carers' assessments don't always happen, sometimes because health professionals or carers are not aware of them. One woman, for example, had only found out about them when she had been caring for four years.

Some people thought an assessment could be useful, but hadn't really done much about it or said “nobody actually asked me”. Many of the carers we spoke to had never had an assessment.

Those who had been assessed told us of mostly negative experiences. Many carers were "not sure if it helped". Assessments involve "pages and pages" of forms and filling in information that may have been recorded "millions of times before" and as a result of assessments, some carers had been told that, “There is nothing we can do.” Others were offered services which didn't meet their needs. 

One carer said that although the assessment had identified some of the help he needed, the professional carers "don't do half the jobs" they were supposed to. He felt he needed to monitor their work to make sure everything was done properly.

Some had chosen not to have an assessment done (or repeated), saying assessments were punishing, involved "lots of hurdles" and question your honesty.

One carer had given up when the self-addressed envelope with her form was returned after three months. She said, “If they can't process a form, what can they do for me?” Some felt assessments for carers need to be re-thought so as to involve less 'red tape' and to take carers' emotional, practical and financial needs into account better.

One carer said that when social workers speak to carers about assessments they need to keep in mind that there is no good word for 'assessment' in some languages so social workers need to find alternative ways to talk about what a carers' assessment is.

But not all assessments are negative, as the clip below shows:

Last reviewed June 2015.

Last updated February 2013.

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