Frequently Asked Questions

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Looking for information on your caring role? You're in the right place!

NEW! We have a local directory of services, support and activities for Croydon carers. Take a look.

Our FAQs answer common questions from local carers. Click on the question for a drop-down answer.

If your question isn't answered here, take a look at our How To Guides. This series of 11 downloadable factsheets brings together what you need to know as a carer in Croydon. Topics include practical help, money, housing, health and more: download the factsheets.

Please note that information on our website is general information only. For personalised advice, contact us.

Am I a carer?

A carer looks after a family member, friend, partner or neighbour who needs support due to illness, disability or old age. The help carers give is unpaid, though you may still receive Carer’s Allowance or other benefits. You do not have to care full time, receive Carer’s Allowance or live with the person you care for to be a carer.

As a carer, you are doing a vital job, but you don't have to do it alone. Find advice and support for carers in Croydon at the Carers Support Centre.

I don’t live in the same borough/county as the person I care for – where do I go for help?

It is the duty of the local authority (council) where the person you care for lives to assess their care and support needs and your needs as a carer. For example, if the person you care for lives in Sutton, the London Borough of Sutton would be responsible for assessing their support needs and offering you a Carer’s Assessment.

The Carers Information Service provides information and advice on all aspects of being a carer in Croydon. If you care for someone in a different borough, find your local carers organisation.

Am I entitled to any financial support or discounts for being a carer?

Discounts

Carers can often get free or reduced entry to tourist attractions and leisure facilities. Some organisations have their own systems for identifying carers and disabled people. If evidence is required, you may be able to use a disability benefit award letter, Carer's Allowance award letter or Blue Badge letter as proof of your caring role. If not available, a letter from the GP or social services could be used. See our Leisure and Holidays factsheet for more information on leisure and holiday discounts.

Grants

Our factsheet on Grant-Giving Organisations has a list of grants you may be eligible for.

Benefits

The main benefit for carers is Carer’s Allowance. See our FAQ on Carer’s Allowance below for more information.

You and the person you care for may also be entitled to other disability or means-tested benefits. For information on money and benefits, download our Money Matters factsheet.

What is Carer's Allowance and how can I claim it?

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. It is currently £64.60 a week from April 2018. The rate generally changes each financial year. To qualify for Carer's Allowance, you must:

  • Be aged 16 or older.
  • Care at least 35 hours a week for someone who is receiving a qualifying disability benefit.
  • Not be in full-time education (over 21 hours a week).
  • Not earn over £120 a week (after some allowable deductions such as tax and National Insurance contributions).
  • Satisfy UK presence and residence conditions - see Citizens UK for details.

Qualifying benefits are:

  • Attendance Allowance (AA) or Constant Attendance Allowance.
    Middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
  • Either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment Constant Attendance Allowance (of £67.20 or more paid with an industrial injuries disablement, war or service pension).

You can only receive Carer’s Allowance once, even if you care for more than one person. If you share caring responsibilities with someone else, only one of you will be able to claim Carer's Allowance.

If you receive means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, Carer’s Allowance will count as income. However, you can get additional money added when calculating your means-tested benefits. This is called the carer element in Universal Credit.

Carer’s Allowance is subject to overlapping benefits rules. This means that if you receive one or more of the overlapping benefits, you will not be entitled to Carer’s Allowance, even if you meet the other eligibility criteria. Overlapping benefits include:

  • State Pension.
  • Contributory Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (JSA).
  • Bereavement benefits e.g. Bereavement Allowance.
  • Incapacity Benefit.
  • Maternity Allowance.
  • Severe Disablement Allowance.

It can still be worth applying for Carer’s Allowance even if overlapping benefits rules apply. This is because you will be recognised as having an underlying entitlement, which may increase your means-tested benefits.

Claiming Carer's Allowance or the Universal Credit carer’s element can affect the means-tested benefits of the person you care for. If the person you care for currently receives the severe disability premium on means-tested benefits, they will lose this when you receive Carer’s Allowance. This does not apply if you are awarded an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance.

You can get Carer's Allowance backdated up to three months before the date you make your claim. This can be extended to more than three months when you claim Carer’s Allowance within three months of the date the person you care received a decision to award them a qualifying disability benefits.

To claim Carer’s Allowance, call the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297 or claim online.

For further information on Carer's Allowance, see the Carers UK guide.

Need information about other benefits? See our Money Matters factsheet.

What is a Carer's Assessment and how can I get one?

A Carer's Assessment is an assessment of your needs for support as a carer under the Care Act 2014. This applies to carers aged 18 or older.

It is the responsibility of the council where the person you care for lives to provide your Carer's Assessment. The assessment will look at how your caring role impacts your life and wellbeing. The council will then decide if you meet the eligibility criteria for support.

Parents or carers of a disabled child or young person can receive a Carer's Assessment from their local authority under the Children and Families Act. The needs of parent carers should also be taken into account in any assessment of their child.

Please be aware that if assessed as needing a break from caring (respite), this counts as a service for the person you care for, and they may be financially assessed for their ability to pay for care and support.

The Carers Information Service provides Carer's Assessments for carers of adults living in Croydon. Read our Carer's Assessment FAQs for more information on what's involved. To contact our Carer's Assessment Service, call 020 8663 5664 (direct line) or email assessments@carersinfo.org.uk.

I need extra support/a break from caring. How do I get this?

When you’re caring for someone, it’s important to get enough support for yourself. If you care for someone in Croydon, contact the Carers Support Centre for advice and emotional support.

Carer breaks

Respite is replacement care to give you a break from caring. You can arrange this privately, through family and friends, or through your local council.

Requesting help from your council

If the person you care for needs more support, or you need a break from caring, you or the person you care for can get in touch with your local authority social care department, and ask for a Needs Assessment. In Croydon, contact the Croydon Adult Social Care team on 020 8726 6500 if you care for an adult. The process is different if you care for a child - see our Caring for a Child factsheet.

The Needs Assessment should look at the person care and support needs, regardless of any support you currently provide as a carer. Your council will use the national eligibility criteria to see if someone is eligible for support services. This includes:

  • Eating properly (including preparing and eating meals).
  • Getting washed and dressed.
  • Going to the toilet.
  • Being safe in their home.
  • Getting out and about locally.
  • Maintaining relationships with family and friends.
  • Accessing work, training, education or volunteering.
  • Carrying out any caring responsibilities they have for a child.

The assessment will also look at how the person's needs affect their wellbeing and quality of life.

As a carer, you can be involved in the assessment process, as long as the person you care for agrees. Try to be honest about the support you provide on a day-to-day basis, and any impact this has on you, during the assessment. It should not be assumed that you are happy to carry on as you are, so be clear about what you are able and willing to do.

Care plan

If they are assessed as eligible for support services, a care plan will be agreed to, explaining what the person’s needs are and how they will be met.

Once the care plan is completed and agreed to, the person you care for should receive a copy. If not, it is important to ask for one, as it can be useful if anything changes in the future.

Paying for care

If your local authority assesses the person you care for as requiring support services, including respite, the person you care for will be financially assessed to work out whether they need to pay for all or part of their care.

The financial assessment will look at the person's capital e.g. savings, investments, etc. It will also look at their income including disability-related benefits, though some types of income will be disregarded.

Croydon carers can contact the Croydon Financial Assessment Team on 020 8760 5768 for more information about financial assessments for adult social care services in Croydon. You can find a list of current charges for 2018/2019 on Croydon Council's website.

Arranging care privately

You also have the option to arrange care, including respite, by contacting care agencies directly and arranging to pay for care privately. See our FAQ "Where can I find a good care home/home care provider?"

More information

For more information about getting care and support, read our Getting Help from Social Care factsheet for carers.

If you care for a child, read our Caring for a Child factsheet.

I'm under 18 and I care for someone. How do I get help?

Around a quarter of a million of children and young people look after a relative in the UK (Office of National Statistics, 2011). If you are under 18 and look after a friend, neighbour or relative in a way that might normally be expected of an adult, you are a young carer.

Young carers give all different kinds of support. You may do practical things like cleaning and cooking, help with medication, sort out appointments, help care for younger siblings and/or provide emotional support and a shoulder to cry on.

If you are a young carer, it’s important to get support for yourself. Even talking about your situation and getting things off your chest can help. The Off the Record Young Carers Service offers emotional support, social activities, help with education and counselling to young carers in Croydon.

If you are aged 7-25, live in Croydon and care for someone with a physical disability, mental health issue, long-term illness or learning disability, call the Young Carers Service on 020 8649 9339, option 2 or email youngcarers@talkofftherecord.org.

Outside of Croydon? Contact the Carers Trust.

I care for a disabled child. What support is available to me?

Every local authority is required by law to have a Local Offer of services and support available to disabled children and young people and their families and carers. Visit the Croydon Local Offer.

Short breaks for families

All local authorities (councils) must offer a Short Breaks Statement for Disabled Children. Short breaks can include: after school clubs, holiday clubs, care for your child in the home during the day, overnight care and residential care.

In Croydon, you may be able to access many short breaks, such as youth clubs, after school clubs and the annual summer scheme, without having an assessment.

You can find information about Croydon short breaks by contacting the 0-25 SEND Social Care Service on 020 8726 6400.

Getting more support

For children with more complex needs, you may receive more ongoing support from children’s social care. In Croydon, the 0-25 SEND Social Care Team supports children and young people with a permanent and substantial physical and/or learning disability. You can contact them on 020 8726 6400 and ask for an assessment of your child's needs and your needs as a family.

Please bear in mind that having an assessment does not necessarily mean you will receive support services; you will only receive support if your child is assessed as having eligible needs.

Useful contacts

Contact (formerly Contact a Family) is a national charity for families with disabled children. They provide information, advice and support to families, including a general helpline, education helpline, comprehensive information on their website and local parent support groups.

KIDS Croydon (SENDIASS) provides information, advice and support to children and young people in Croydon with a disability or special educational needs (SEN). This includes information on local policy and SEN law, support resolving disagreements with the local authority, individual casework and representing families at meetings, support managing mediation and SEN Tribunal appeals, and signposting to further help. They run a term-time advice drop-in at the Carers Support Centre.

Parents in Partnership (PIP) supports parents of disabled children and young people or children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) between 0 – 25 years old living in Croydon. Their Family Link Workers can provide you with information, advice and emotional support. They can also direct or refer you to relevant support services in the borough.

SENDirect is an online directory and information hub for families with a child with a disability or SEN created by a consortium of nine charities.

How can I look after my health as a carer?

It’s easy to forget to look after your own health needs whilst juggling everything else, but it’s important to take care of yourself. Here are some general tips and resources to support you to look after your health whilst caring:

Tell your GP that you are a carer: It's important to ensure that your GP is aware of the impact caring has on your health. Ways your GP can support you may include placing you on their Carers' Register, giving you information about local carer support, keeping a closer eye on your overall health, offering you a flu jab in the winter flu period (if eligible) and demonstrating greater flexibility when offering you appointments. You may wish to download our Carers GP Checklist and share it with your GP. We also have a web section especially for GPs.

Get enough sleep: Many carers experience sleep difficulties due to stress and caring responsibilities. One of our trainers offers practical techniques to help you sleep better and feel more refreshed.

Eat and exercise well: Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can be a real struggle when you are caring. See the Just Be Croydon website for a health MOT and tips on healthier lifestyles. If you are finding this tough to achieve because of your caring role, speak to your GP.

Get a free flu jab for you, as well as the person you care for: If you care for an ill or disabled person who may be at risk if you fell ill, or if you receive Carer's Allowance, you are entitled to a free NHS flu jab. In partnership with community pharmacies, we offer free flu jabs for carers every winter.

Try to find time to relax: Carers are often 'time poor', but even setting aside a short period of relaxation time for yourself can make a difference. We run a range of wellbeing activities at the Carers Support Centre, including massage, singing and dance.

Talk to someone: If you are feeling stressed and want to speak to someone outside the situation, you can talk to an Advice Worker at the Carers Support Centre, call us on 020 8649 9339, option 1 or email enquiries@carersinfo.org.uk. If you need support from a counsellor, Mind in Croydon offers six free counselling sessions for carers.

Please be aware the above information is for general information purposes only. If you need medical advice, speak to your GP or relevant health professional.

I'm a working carer. What are my rights?

Three million people juggle work and care in the UK. That's a tricky balancing act!

It’s your decision whether or not to tell your employer that you are a carer. Some people find it helpful as their employer may be more understanding about your situation. Your employer may also have additional policies which go above and beyond the legal requirements.

Flexible working
If you have been in your current job for 26 continuous weeks or more (with a few exceptions, such as if you are an agency worker), you have the right to ask for flexible working. This is different to the right to receiving flexible working. For further information about how to make a flexible working request, visit Carers UK.

Time off for dependants
If you care for someone and you need to take time off to deal with an emergency, you may be able to use the right to time off for dependants. The time off you take will need to be reasonable in the circumstances and does not have to be paid.

Leaving work due to caring responsibilities
Leaving work is a big decision and you will need to think about the financial implications, and the impact on your own wellbeing and confidence.

If you don’t want to give up work, you may wish to use flexible working, take a career break or paid/unpaid leave or ask for additional help from the council. You could also talk to your employer about your situation and see if there are any other options you haven’t considered.

If you do leave work and your income changes, you may need to look at claiming financial support - see our Money Matters factsheet.

Going back to work
If you have left work due to caring responsibilities, there may come a time when you wish or are able to return to employment. Gateway Employment hosts bookable employment advice appointments for carers and former carers at the Carers Support Centre. See What's On for the latest dates.

More information
ACAS has online information on employment rights and responsibilities, a helpline and an early resolution service before employment cases reach tribunal. Their helpline (0300 123 1100) is open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday 9am-1pm

Working Families has a dedicated helpline for people caring for a disabled child or adult. Call 020 7017 0072 or email janet.mearns@workingfamilies.org.uk.

What are my rights as a carer?

Carers UK has a downloadable guide on your rights as a carer. This includes information on benefits, getting support, making decisions and rights in the workplace.

I worry about what would happen if I wasn't around to provide care. How can I prepare for emergencies?

When you are caring for someone, is a good idea to put together an emergency plan in case something happens and you are temporarily unable to provide care. To create your emergency plan, you will need to know:

Name, address and any other contact details of the person you care for.
Emergency contact details of people who can provide replacement care.
Any medication the person is taking.
Any ongoing treatment they need.
Their support, mobility and communication needs.
The Carers Information Service has a template emergency plan you can use: Carers Emergency Plan.

You can also download our Carers Emergency Plan Guidance, with tips on how to put your plan together and ideas to help you prepare for emergencies. For help inserting photos, download the instructions.

If you would like more support filling in your emergency plan, contact the Carers Information Service on 020 8649 9339, option 1 or email enquiries@carersinfo.org.uk.

Carer Emergency Card

To give you greater peace of mind, the Carers Information Service offers Carers Emergency Cards to carers in Croydon. The card identifies you as a carer and provides emergency contact details. Cards can be picked up for free at the Carers Support Centre.

More tips to help you prepare for emergencies

Keep a list of emergency contacts in an easily accessible place, such as stuck to the fridge.

Put an In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact into any mobile phones.

Tell your employer you are a carer, in case you need any unexpected time off to deal with emergencies affecting the person you care for.

Get Message in a Bottle. Bottles are available for free from the Carers Support Centre.

Register for emergency short-term replacement care with Croycare, run by Croydon Council. Call 020 8654 7166 (CarelinePlus) or email careline@croydon.gov.uk to register.

Ask for a Carer’s Assessment.

Make the home safe and secure.

Purchase or hire any necessary equipment to promote independence - ASKSara has an online advice tool.

Watch out for scams and bogus traders with tips from Citizens Advice.

Useful contacts

Find a list of useful emergency contacts in Croydon using our local directory.

What is Lasting Power of Attorney and how do I make one?

Lasting Power of Attorney allows a person to make decisions on behalf of a person who lacks mental capacity. Mental capacity is the ability to make and communicate decisions.

When making a Lasting Power of Attorney, the person who gives permission for someone to make decisions on their behalf is called a donor. The person who makes decisions on a person’s behalf is called an attorney.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: Property and Financial Affairs (which covers financial and property decisions) and Health and Welfare (which covers decisions about health and care).

When setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs, a person can choose to allow their attorney to make decisions about finances on their behalf before they lose mental capacity. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can only be used once a person loses mental capacity.

The attorney has certain responsibilities when making decisions on a person’s behalf. See GOV.UK for more information.

A Lasting Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian to be valid. Lasting Power of Attorney can be applied for online, but you will need to print out and send the forms with a written signature. A Power of Attorney is a legal document, but you do not necessarily need to involve a solicitor.

You will need a certificate provider to register a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a person who confirms that the person making the Lasting Power of Attorney knows what they are doing and isn’t being pressurised or coerced. A certificate provider can be a professional, such as a social worker or solicitor, or someone who has known the person for two years or more and isn’t a relative or partner.

There is a £82 fee to register a Lasting Power of Attorney, but there are some circumstances where fees may be reduced/exempt. Check the Office of the Public Guardian website for more information.

Once a person loses the mental capacity to grant a Lasting Power of Attorney, only the Court of Protection can appoint a decision maker to make decisions on their behalf. The decision maker is called a Deputy.

Deputy application must be made to the Court of Protection. There are fees to pay to be a Deputy, including an application fee and an annual supervision fee, and a number of forms to fill in. It may therefore be helpful to plan ahead and consider appointing an Attorney at an earlier stage.

Age UK has more information on Lasting Power of Attorney.

Where can I find a good care home/home care provider?

Choosing the right care home or nursing home is an important decision and will depend on individual needs and circumstances.

The first step is to ask for a Needs Assessment from the adult social care department in the area where the person you care for lives. The person you care for can make this request or you can do so on their behalf with their consent. This assessment will provide professional advice on their needs and the support they require, and determine if their needs may be best met in a residential setting.

If the person you care for is assessed as needing a care home and the council is organising their care, the council should provide a list of homes that can meet their needs.

It’s important to try to visit care homes before making a decision. You may like to write down a list of questions to ask staff when you visit. Age UK has a care home checklist to help you know what to look for.

For more information on care homes, see our Care Homes factsheet.

If you are looking for care and support in the home, there are a wide range of care agencies in Croydon who can provide this service. Croydon Care Directory provides a list of local private, voluntary and council care homes and care providers. Free copies are available at the Carers Support Centre.

You can also use online search tools to find a suitable care home or home care provider:

Care Home Advisor allows you to search for care homes and compare ratings. Ratings are provided by various agencies, including the Care Quality Commission, NHS Choices, Your Care Rating, Food Standards Agency and the Health & Safety Executive.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates all registered care homes and home care agencies in England. You can search for CQC registered care homes and care providers, and find inspection reports on their website.

Elderly Accommodation Counsel has an online database of care homes and other residential options for older people. They also have a list of home care providers.

The UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) has a database of home care agencies which have signed up to its code of practice. They also produce a leaflet called Choosing Care at Home.

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