It’s Carers Rights Day today (Thursday 25 November) and Carers in Bedfordshire want to make sure unpaid family carers are aware of their rights and how they can access the support they are entitled to.
An unpaid carer is anyone who cares for their friend or family member who due to illness, disability, mental health problems or an addiction, cannot cope without their support, or need extra help as they grow older. Carers in Bedfordshire provides support for carers throughout the county.
Today young carers and support workers are meeting with the Children’s Commissioner for England Dame Rachel de Souza on Zoom, for an opportunity to give their views on the support young carers need and to make their voices heard.
Carers have the right to ask Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council for an assessment of their caring role, to be able to receive any financial and practical support they might need. For young carers the local authority will look at the impact of caring, and whether it’s appropriate for the young person to be carrying out the role and what additional support would help.
If the person being cared for is struggling to cope, carers are entitled to arrange a Needs Assessment from the council for them. Local authorities are also required to assess the needs of parent carers of a child with additional needs or a learning or physical disability.
Carers are entitled to one or more state benefits:
- Carer’s Allowance is the main state benefit for carers.
- Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance (NI) contribution to help make sure you do not lose out on some social security benefits, such as the State Pension, because of gaps in your NI record.
- Carer Premium – an allowance on top of some benefits.
- Disability Living Allowance for children – if you’re the parent carer of a disabled child.
Carers juggling work with their caring role, have employment rights. These include the right to request flexible working and the right to take unpaid time off during emergencies without affecting their employment. Watch former carer Eileen’s video about the needs of employers to be flexible and embrace carers.
Carers have the right to register as a carer with their GP. Doctors can then help carers with any physical or mental health issues they may have due to their caring role and they can refer carers to support with Carers in Bedfordshire or any other organisations which may benefit them. By registering as a carer the practice should be more flexible in terms of finding appointments, as well as making carers aware they are entitled to a free winter flu jab and the Covid booster vaccine.
Carers also have a right to be consulted on hospital discharges of the person they are caring for. In Bedford and Luton and Dunstable Hospitals Carers in Bedfordshire have a Support Worker on site, who can liaise with hospital staff on a carer’s behalf to get them all the discharge and treatment information they need.
Message from our CEO
Carers in Bedfordshire Chief Executive Officer Chris Stelling said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on unpaid carers – most have seen an surge in the amount of hours spent caring and in the intensity of their caring role. In many cases, the needs of the person being cared for have increased and carers are feeling close to breaking point. Unpaid Carers save the UK economy in excess of £132 billion per year, so it is more important than ever to support carers to understand their rights in healthcare settings, in the workplace and in the community, as well as be aware what financial, practical and wellbeing support they are entitled to. We work with in partnership with many organisations to ensure unpaid carers needs are met.
“Many carers do not see themselves as carers, because they are just doing what they can for a relative or friend. But if that person couldn’t cope without your support, you are a carer and we encourage you to register with us so you too can be supported and we can help you to .”
For further information about Carers in Bedfordshire or to sign up for support, visit www.carersinbeds.org.uk