Fair access to care services (FACS): prioritising eligibility for care and support
Support planning - Working with carers as expert partners
The National Carers Strategy includes a ten year vision for carers, a commitment to move carers’ issues to “the centre of family policy” and to reflect this by promoting the concept of whole family care planning following separate assessment. Undertaking effective carers’ assessments is a key part of making this a reality. The national strategy also calls for recognition of carers as expert partners in care.(‘Carers’, DH, 2010, para 93) The government made further commitments to carer support in its cross-government document ‘Recognised, valued and support: next steps for the Carers Strategy’ (DH, 2010) 
Preethi’s story, part 2 – the extended family in different caring roles
Although not providing day-to-day care for her mother, Preethi is responsible for ensuring that her elderly father, the main carer, does not become exhausted looking after his wife, who has dementia. Her knowledge of and role in the family are integral to assessing her parents’ care needs. She knows it is vital that her mother receives culturally appropriate support, which alone will be acceptable to her father. The worker at the Carers’ Centre understands Preethi’s central role in arranging support for her parents, and ensures she is involved in the assessment of her mother’s needs and the carer’s assessment for her father.
The ‘Carers’ section in ‘Prioritising need’  identifies the need to take account of the support from carers when determining eligibility for individuals. Table 2 sets out nationally defined levels of risk and criteria for assessing sustainability in the caring role.
When working with adult carers and young people providing care to family members, staff will need to:
- implement the council’s policies and procedures for responding to requests for, and carrying out, carers’ assessments
- explain clearly the council’s policies on whether to charge carers for any services provided
- consider whether needs assessment and care and support planning are best undertaken with the family as a whole, or whether separate assessment of the child’s and adult’s needs is more appropriate
- work in partnership with carers during their assessment, ensuring, if they wish, they contribute through self-assessment
- identify and assess the sustainability of the support carers, or others in the individual’s network, are able and willing to give in the immediate and longer term
- identify how the caring role impacts on the carer’s wellbeing and their employment, education, training, alternatives to employment, volunteering and leisure opportunities
- consider the implications of the caring role for the carer’s other family responsibilities (e.g. care for children or support for elderly relatives)
- involve carers, with the individual’s agreement, in an individual’s FACS assessment
- provide, or signpost, relevant, timely, up-to-date information and advice about universal and community resources that support:
- the caring role
- the carer’s own needs and wellbeing
- the individual’s wellbeing when they have been assessed as lacking the capacity to take part (here, the carer may also have to act as advocate for the person they are supporting and will need the best possible information about the support services that could enable the individual to remain at home, to avoid inappropriate choices on the individual’s behalf)
- provide carers with accessible information on how to give feedback, raise issues or make complaints
- work to support and strengthen community-based resources that can be provided for individuals with specific needs and for their carers.
The Care Bill sets out the local authority’s duty to assess a carer’s needs for support, the approach to be adopted and the factors to be taken into account. It also outlines the duty to meet the carer’s eligible needs, the options of providing support to the carer or care and support to the individual, and the conditions applying to charging. The Care Bill includes powers that will allow the Secretary of State to prescribe in regulations that the needs of the family should be considered when assessing an adult for care and support. There is wide support for this proposal – particularly from young carers and from carers with multiple caring responsibilities.
The Bill proposes that everyone who has a care and support plan, or a support plan for carers, will have a personal budget. The person receiving care and support and their carer will be able to ask for part or all of the personal budget as a direct payment and, subject to specified conditions, the local authority must meet the request.