Carers Rights Day

Featured article - 20 November 2015
By SCIE's chief executive, Tony Hunter

Head-shot of the author, SCIE's chief executive, Tony Hunter

It’s a bit of a cliché but I’ll say it anyway: Carers often don’t actually class themselves as carers. They may be supporting a family member and it can naturally feel second nature to do so. But it can also be a challenge and so we do think they should be called carers. And there’s more. Those carers now have rights.

Today is Carers Rights Day and since 1 April, carers have had new rights under the Care Act 2014. This legislation replaces the patchwork of cloudy laws that used to exist to support carers. It means that carers may now be eligible for support of their own. Councils must consider three conditions: whether people are providing what’s called ‘necessary care’ for an adult; whether, as a result of their caring, the carer’s mental or physical health is deteriorating; and whether there’s a significant impact on the carer’s wellbeing when they try to perform their caring tasks. This summarises the advice we give on carers rights under the Care Act.

This is important, because every year more than two million people take on a new caring role. Many can struggle to navigate the maze of services and entitlements, and miss out on financial and practical support as a result. And it’s not just people who are new to caring – even those who have been caring for years sometimes aren’t always aware of all their entitlements.

And organisers of today’s event, Carers UK, are also highlighting the right to have the correct information available. It might seem a bit of a strange concept; the right to information! But information is power and Carers UK say that having the right information at the right time can make a huge difference when you are looking after someone. They say it can help carers in their local community know their rights and find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to.

Today, coffee mornings are being held, drop-in sessions are being organised and information stands are being put up. All in the name of getting information out to carers. Carers Rights Day also sees the launch of the latest edition of Carers UK’s Carers Rights Guide, which provides a comprehensive and accessible guide to the practical and financial support available for carers.

It’s time that all carers see themselves as carers and get access to the information which they are entitled to.

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