Carers corner

Information and resources for carers of adults with mental health problems.

Who is considered to be a carer?

The term carer is used here to describe someone who provides, or intends to provide, practical and emotional support to someone with a mental health problem.

You may or may not live with the person you care for. They may be your spouse, partner, a relative, friend or neighbour, but you now find yourself in a position of needing to support someone.

Common mental health problems

The term mental health problem is used to describe a number of mental illnesses of a severe and/or enduring nature; such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder (manic depression), psychosis, dementia or an eating disorder. We must ensure you receive the right support and information, and are involved in the assessment and care planning for the person you care for, including any changes to their care plan. Under the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004, carers are entitled to an assessment of their own needs.

What is a carers’ assessment?

A carers’ assessment must consider whether the carer works, undertakes any form of education, training, leisure activity or their wish to do any of these. It is usually carried out by a mental health worker in the relevant team, as they have the best knowledge of the social support network surrounding the person who is being cared for. This may be the care co-ordinator, who maybe a community psychiatric nurse, a social worker, occupational therapist or other member of the local community mental health team. Where someone receives services from the complex care and dementia service, the assessment may be carried out by adult care, health and wellbeing. Either way, the health or social care worker will have experience, knowledge and skills in mental health care.

How will an assessment help?

As a relative, spouse, partner or friend, you will have a great deal of experience and understanding of the person you care for. A carers’ assessment may identify ways that you can be assisted in your caring role. This not only helps and supports your needs, but is essential in the building of a complete picture of what life is like for the person you care for and you as their carer. Assessment can help the development of a care plan for you, if you choose to have one. It can also assist in care planning for the person you care for. You may be entitled to a carer’s personal budget to help you to continue in your caring role. Please note this is a local independent budget. It is assessed on an individual basis and is not means-tested.

For further advice and more information about a carer’s personal budget, call 01872 221047. For longer-term support, the assessment may identify the need to work with other agencies or organisations, such as Care and Support in Cornwall.

Resources and information