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Supporting carers: Mental health carers’ assessments in policy and practice

The Care Act (2014) came into force in April 2015, with part of its remit to recognise the role and importance of carers, and to give carers greater legislative power.

Carers’ assessments are a key feature of this act. They are a duty placed on local authorities to offer carers an assessment of their needs, in order to identify potential, additional support.

The Carers UK report State of Caring 2016 presents a bleak picture of the implementation of the Care Act (2014), arguing that its promises have not been realised for all.

1.5 million carers in the UK look after an individual with mental ill health (Carers Trust, 2013). This can have an impact on their ability to work, socialise and live their life to the full.

Mental health carers face significant challenges to access carers’ assessments and appropriate support. Barriers can include information sharing, stigma, terminology and the quality of delivery.

Practitioners who deliver mental health carers’ assessments can be under pressure to deliver certain quantities of assessments, which may restrict their ability to focus on quality of support.

There are great strides to be made in statutory processes to enable mental health carers to be adequately supported, and care practitioners to fulfil their potential.

Further research is needed to understand the inequality experienced by mental health carers in terms of assessments, to share good practice and to make recommendations for improvement.