It is very important that people with mental health difficulties are cared for. However, it can be very demanding and carers may need support themselves to keep well.
A carer means someone of any age who provides regular and substantial care to someone with mental health difficulties, but is not a paid care worker nor someone who provides care through a voluntary organisation. A carer could be a relative, partner, friend or neighbour. They may not necessarily live with the person they care for.
The Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, set out carers’ legal rights to assessment and support. It relates mostly to adult carers (carers aged 18 years old, and over, who care for another adult). Carers who meet this definition have a right to receive help and support from mental health services and carer support services.
The Children and Families Act 2014 (England only), which came into force in April 2015, gave adults who care for disabled children and young carers aged under 18 the right to be assessed and supported.
Health and social care services should recognise carers’ by listening to them and involving them as equal partners in providing care. Subject to confidentiality agreements, they should also provide the carer with information about the cared-for person’s treatment and what the carer can do to help keep them well.
Assessment of carers’ needs – young carers aged up to 18
Assessments for young carers are similar to those for adults but they do differ in some ways.To find out more about how you can get help, please see Assessments for Young Carers
Assessment of carers’ needs – adults
Adult carers are entitled to an ‘assessment of carers needs’. This is available regardless of whether the person being cared for is being supported by mental health services.
The local authority is responsible for carrying out and providing assessments if a carer appears to have a need for support, but they can arrange for other organisations to carry out this function.
Since April 2017 the responsibility to carry out most Carers Assessments for carers over 18 years old has been held by Sheffield Carers Centre
However, there is an exception to this: if the person being cared for receives a social care package from one of the mental health teams within Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust, then the Trust remains responsible for completing the carers assessment.
Assessments usually involve considering the caring role, the impact this has on the carer’s life and any difficulties that this causes. The process should result in the carer getting support to help cope if that is what is needed. For example, the carer may receive emotional support, advice and information on dealing with difficult behaviour, or additional support to allow them to take a break. Carers may also be able to use direct payments to pay for services and support to help them in their role as a carer.
This assessment of carers’ needs is a key way to get help. Contact Sheffield Health and Social Care to get this set up.
Or Sheffield Carers Centre on 0114 272 8362 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Support for Carers
Overall, although caring for someone with mental health problems can be rewarding, it can also be very draining. Getting help from services for carers can make a big difference and help you feel less stressed or alone.
Carers can get support even if the person being cared for is not in contact with mental health services. Support for carers may include:
- Emotional support
- Social activities with other carers
- Information about rights, services and conditions / treatments
- Support groups
- Training courses
- Help with developing coping strategies
- Funding to help you take a break from your caring
There is a wide range of support for carers offered by voluntary sector organisations including:
- Sheffield Carers’ Centre – As well as carrying out Carers Assessments alongside Sheffield’s Community Mental Health Teams, the centre provides support, information and advice.
- The Carers’ Centre Advisor Team has trained staff who understand the pressures of caring and can help you with any aspect of your caring role. They will also connect you with other services that the Centre provides, and help you understand how they can most effectively help you.
- Sheffield Young Carers’ Project – for young carers aged 8-25 – is an independent charity that supports young carers across the city offering one to one support, group activities, respite holidays and support with education, employment and training. All activities are free of charge and help young carers get a break, get support and meet others in a similar situation.
There are a range of other support organisations, some of which support people dealing with specific issues or from specific communities. You can find out more by searching in our ‘support’ section.