Carers Rights Day, Thursday 23 November, is a national campaign led by Carers UK. The aim of the day is to raise awareness of caring, help to identify carers and signposting them to information, advice and support. Each year Carers UK base the campaign around a different theme to address the underlying aims.
This years theme is; your rights: today, tomorrow and in the future.
First and foremost we need to encourage more people to recognise that they are in caring roles so they can access their rights and get any support needed. So who are Carers, Unpaid Carers Informal Carers (these terms are often used interchangeably)?
A Carer is anyone, including children and adults, who look after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.
What are Carers Rights?
If you are a carer, you’re entitled to certain rights which may help you access services, look after your health and wellbeing or could provide vital information and support in looking after your partner, family member or friend.
So what are your rights? Below is an overview as defined in the Care Act 2014 and other relevant legislation:
The right to choose whether or not to be a carer- of course it doesn’t always feel like you have a choice.
The right to self-determine willingness and ability to care.
The right to be supported to identify which of the cared-for’s needs you might be willing and able to support. This is part of your Carers Assessment and the Needs Assessment of the person you care for.
The right to a Carer’s Assessment – The Carer Assessment is simply a chat to find out what needs you may have as a carer and what support may be available for you. The person you care for does not need to be receiving help from Social Care in order for you to have a Carers Assessment. You can access a Carer Assessment from the Local Authority of the person you care for. Find out more about Carers Assessments and how to get one here.
Young carers right to assessment. Young carers are children under 18 with caring responsibilities. Their rights to be assessed come mostly from the Children’s Act 1989 and the Children and Families Act 2014. As part of the whole family approach, if there is a disabled adult being cared for, then the local council has a duty to consider whether there are any children involved in providing that care and, if so, what the impact is on that child. Therefore a young carer's assessment is not a stand-alone process and comes as part of an assessment of the need for the person being cared for. However, the assessment must look at whether or not the young carer wishes to continue caring, whether it is appropriate for them to continue caring in relation to any education, training, work or recreational activities the young carer is or wishes to participate in. Where a young carer’s eligible needs are identified as requiring support, local councils will have a duty to provide support directly to the young carer or demonstrate that the cared-for person's assessment has provided adequate care and support to prevent inappropriate care from being required from the young carer. For young carers support, contact The Junction Foundation- 01642 756000.
The right to engage in employment, education, training and leisure. First and foremost you are an individual and have your own health, wellbeing and development to consider. Local organisations can support you if you are looking to get in to employment, education, training and leisure. Find out more.
Carers UK has released new research today (Carers Rights Day) sharing that caring responsibilities for relatives or friends who are older, disabled or seriously ill are having a significant impact on people’s capacity to work and earn a full-time wage, research from Carers UK shows. Read more and download the full report.
The right to request flexible working. Currently carers have the right to ask their employer for flexible working but this is up to the employer. The new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act (2024) will mean that anyone, including unpaid carers will be able to ask their employer for changes to their working hours, times of work, or place of work, from day one and more than once a year.
The right to Carer's Leave (from 2023). The Carers Leave Act was passed on 25 May 2023, implementation date is to be confirmed but expected to be in 2024. It will give employees juggling work with unpaid care a legal right to request up to five days unpaid leave every twelve months, which will help many manage some of the day-to-day challenges of being a carer – enabling them to stay in employment.
The right to a free flu vaccination- are you aware that to access your free flu vaccination you need to be registered with your GP as a carer. You can complete our GP Registration Form and hand it in to your surgery to ensure you get invited for your vaccinations but also for better understanding and support in line with your health and wellbeing needs. Download the Carers GP Registration Form.
If you are a carer and the person you care for is being discharged from hospital, the hospital must identify and consult with you, where possible.
Right to be protected against direct discrimination or harassment because of your caring responsibilities. Understanding your rights can be useful if you feel you have been treated unfairly because of your caring role – and you may also be protected under other laws including disability or sex discrimination legislation. You can read more on Carers UK's website.
What to do if you feel you are not being heard?
Advocacy means getting support from another person to help you express your views and wishes, and help you stand up for your rights. Someone who helps you in this way is called an advocate.
A general advocate helps to:
- find out information
- speak to professionals
- empower individuals to make their own informed decisions
- ensure individuals views and wishes are heard.
- support individuals to navigate through the health and social care system
- a general advocate cannot support with filling out forms, benefits our bidding for housing.
A general advocate could support you to ensure any concerns you or your loved on has about their care are listened too heard. They can help you to understand legal processes, support you to access more services and provide support with a care act assessment. If you require we can represent the views of the person that you care for by simply completing a separate referral form.
To find out more about the different types of advocacy available through the team click here.
To access Teesside Mind advocacy you must be:
- aged 16+ or 18+ depending upon the type of advocacy
- living in Teesside
All referrals for Teesside Mind are made to People First who run the advocacy hub, they can be made online or over the phone.
Website: www.wearepeoplefirst.co.uk Telephone: 03003038037
Once a referral is made to the hub it is allocated to one of five providers of advocacy locally, Teesside Mind are one of the providers, you can request to specifically receive support from them if preferred.