Carer's Assessments


See: The Hertfordshire Local Offer


This chapter was revised extensively in September 2018 and should be re-read in its entirety.

1. Scope

This procedure applies to all cases where it appears that a parent/ non parent carer has significant additional caring responsibilities for their disabled child. The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment, and that impairment has a substantial and long term adverse effect on that person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities. This definition is the basis for determining whether or not a child should be regarded as disabled. Examples are physical or mental impairments which (depending on the individual's circumstances) would usually fulfil one or more of the criteria below:

  • Special sensory impairments: hearing loss, visual impairments, deaf-blind etc.
  • A significant learning disability;
  • Multiple and complex health needs;
  • A chronic physical illness;
  • Autism (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and Communication Disorders with significant impairment of intellectual functioning or communication;
  • Significant pre-school developmental delay;
  • Young people who have a diagnosed mental illness which significantly impacts activities of daily living, is severe and enduring.

The child would usually meet the eligibility thresholds for DLA.

The need for a carer's assessment should be carefully considered in such cases.

The 'Parent Carer' is the carer who holds parental responsibility for a child / young person.

A 'Non-Parent Carer' is someone over the age of 18 who does not hold parental responsibility for a child / young person (e.g. grandparent or other person).

2. What is a Carer's Assessment

The needs of a disabled child living with their family cannot be fully understood without also considering the impact of meeting the child's needs on the parent and siblings. If their needs as carers are not considered, it could lead to the child's needs not being met.

The purpose of a parent / non parent carer's assessment is to ensure that the decisions made about the services to be offered take full account of the impact of caring on the carer's life, including their physical and emotional health, their social life and their own career and personal development.

For carers who are parent/non parent carers, their needs assessment is to determine whether a parent/non parent carer has needs for support and if so what those needs are. It will therefore help ensure that the decisions made about the services to be offered take full account of the impact of caring on the carer's life, including their physical and emotional health, their social life and their own career and personal development.

Parent Carer Assessments – The support needs of the parent carer of a disabled child will always be considered as part of the Child and Family Assessment process. Where a parent carer requests that this takes place separately, this will be documented within the parent/non parent carer assessment form.

Non Parent Carer Assessments - MAY be required when undertaking an assessment of a disabled child. The assessment needs to consider the carer's ability to provide or continue to provide care for the disabled child. The local authority must take account of the results of such assessment when deciding whether to provide services to the disabled child. The assessment must also consider whether the carer works or wishes to work, or whether they wish to engage in education, training or recreation activities.

The following links may assist:

Carer's organisation

And SCIE Guide 9: Implementing the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004

3. Legislation

The Children and Families Act 2014 has inserted new provision into the Children Act 1989 which has strengthened the entitlement of parent carers to services in their own right. This means that parent carers who have parental responsibility and are aged over 18 years are entitled to a parent carer needs assessment if they provide or intend to provide care for a disabled child if they meet conditions set out in the legislation. These conditions are:

  • It appears to the Local Authority that the parent carer may have needs for support, or the authority receives a request from a parent / non parent carer asking them to assess the parent / non parent carer's needs for support; and
  • The Local Authority is satisfied that the disabled child cared for and their family are persons which the Local Authority may provide or arrange a provision of services for under the Children Act 1989.

It should be noted that the Local Authority does not have to agree to assess, if they have previously carried out a care related assessment of the parent / non parent carer in relation to the same child cared for unless the needs or circumstances have changed since the previous care related assessment.

The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 requires the authority, when carrying out an assessment of the needs of a disabled child (or an adult under community care legislation) to also assess (on request) the ability of carers to provide and continue to provide care. The authority is then required to take that assessment into account when deciding what services should be offered.

The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 introduced powers which:

  • Give carers the right to an assessment for themselves, even when the child (or adult) refuses one;
  • Enable the local authorities to make direct payments to carers (including 16 and 17 year old carers).

The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2005:

  • Places a duty on the authority to inform carers of their right to a carer's assessment;
  • Requires the authority to consider, when undertaken a carer's assessment, whether the carer works or wishes to work, and whether they are undertaking or wish to undertake any education, training or leisure activity.

The Care Act (2014)

  • Places a duty on the local authority to ensure an assessment of need is carried out on those children whereby it would be of significant benefit to assess, if it is likely that the child will have a need for care and support after becoming 18;
  • In order to conduct the assessment for post 18 support consent must be obtain from the child. If the child lacks capacity to give consent then the local authority must satisfy themselves that the assessment would be in their best interests;
  • Where it is likely that a child will require care and support, the local authority must be satisfied that it would be of significant benefit to the carer to assess whether the carer has needs for support and what those needs are and whether the carer is likely to have support needs after the child becomes 18, and if so what those needs are likely to be.

The Children and Families Act 2014

  • Defines a "parent/carer" as a person aged 18 or over who provides or intends to provide care for a disabled child for whom the person has parental responsibility;
  • Places a duty on the local authority to ensure carer's needs for support, other needs and wishes are included within assessments.

Working Together to Safeguard Children

  • Highlights the need for professionals to be aware that identifying young carers as early as possible ensures greater effectiveness in identifying potential needs and provision of early help intervention services;
  • Non – Parent Carer's needs should be considered in carers' assessments.

The Parent / Non Parent carer's assessment will be carried out by the team responsible for assessing the cared for child's needs. This may either be a 0-25 Together Service or an Assessment Team, Family Safeguarding Team or Targeted Youth Support Team.

4. Informing Carers of their Right to an Assessment

The authority is required to inform carers of their right to an assessment. However the offer of an assessment must be undertaken sensitively. Many carers find it hard to speak of their difficulties coping with the caring role. Additionally carers are likely to understand "parent / non parent carer's needs assessment" as some kind of test or judgement of their adequacy as a parent, rather than an exploration of their need for support.

It should be explained to carers that part of the overall assessment will include the need to understand how caring for the child is impacting on the carer's life and whether there are any additional ways in which they can be supported or helped as carers.

It will often be appropriate to make a separate appointment to discuss the carer's needs, and parents of children with disabilities in Hertfordshire have made it clear that they would welcome seeing a copy of the checklist of topics to be discussed in advance of the meeting.

Carers may decline an assessment. If they do so, the reasons for doing so should be carefully explored. The fact that an assessment has been offered and declined should be recorded.

There are a range of assessment pathways available for parent / non parent carers. See Documents Library or details.

5. Recording Assessment

Once agreement has been obtained to conduct an assessment, depending on identified needs, the Parent / Non Parent Carer Assessments should follow either a Family First Assessment (Families First and Early Help Module) or a Child and Family Assessment, undertaken by Children's Services, where the needs of the cared for child or young person is highlighted.

A carer can request an assessment in their own right. In this instance a separate carer's assessment form is available for this purpose.

When conducting a Parent Carer / Non Parent Carer needs assessment, the assessment should have regard to:

  1. The well-being of the parent / non parent carer; and
  2. The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the disabled child cared for and any other child for whom the parent / non parent has parental responsibility.

A copy of the assessment should be shared with carer.

The assessment document needs to be completed in such a way that it is apparent that the needs of the carers and the impact of caring for the disabled child on their lives have also been considered.

6. Contingency and Emergency Planning

Many carers manage on their own without outside help and may worry about what would happen in the event they were unable to provide care in an emergency or any other unforeseen circumstances. In the first instance practitioners should assist carers to plan in advance of emergencies in the form of contingency planning. Carers should also be informed of who to contact in the event of an emergency. Contingency plans should be included within the child's Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, as well as within Families First Plan or Child in need Plan.

7. Young Carers

The Young Carers Procedure highlights the responsibilities the local authority has in relation to assessing, supporting and safeguarding young carers (under the age of 18).

8. Support for Carers

There is a wide range of support available to carers including an online awareness course, advice and assistance from Hertfordshire County Council and other agencies including:

Any other services provided such as short breaks, respite care, sitting services, direct payments, etc. will need to be assessed and agreed upon before implementation.

9. Reviews of Parent / Non Parent Carer Support

The support provided to parent and non-parent carers must be reviewed as part of the child or young person's Education, Health, and Care Plan review, as well as within the Families First Plan review or the Child in Need/Child Protection Plan review.

10. Preparation for Adulthood

For young people with a disability who have been cared for by a parent/non parent carer, when the young person turns 14 planning should begin to support the young person into adulthood.