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Health and social care rights

Explains your rights to health and social care for your mental health. Includes information on eligibility for social care and how local authorities may meet your needs.

What are my rights as a carer?

This information is for adult carers of someone experiencing a mental health problem.

If you're a young carer (under 18), see the NHS website or the Carers UK website for information on your rights.

Am I a 'carer'?

Local authorities consider you to be a 'carer' if you're an adult who provides, or intends to provide, care for another adult who needs it. But they will not usually consider you a carer if the caring you do is part of your job. For example, paid or voluntary work for a charity.

What social care rights do I have as a carer?

If you're a carer, you may be entitled to social care support under the Care Act 2014 (in England) or the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (in Wales).

The law for carers is similar to other adults, in that:

  • You'll have an assessment (called a carer's assessment) to find out what your needs for support are
  • The local authority will decide whether your needs meet the eligibility criteria
  • A support plan of your eligible needs will be prepared

If it appears that you may have needs for support now, or in the future,  your local authority must carry out a carer's assessment.

For more general information about being a carer, see our pages on coping when supporting someone else

What's a carer's assessment?

A carer's assessment is similar to a needs assessment. It will look at:

  • Your needs for support, and what those needs are or will be
  • Your ability to continue providing care and support for the person you're caring for
  • Your willingness to provide care and support for the person you're caring for
  • The impact of your needs for support on your wellbeing
  • What outcomes you wish to achieve in life and how your needs impact achieving these outcomes
  • Whether providing you with support, information, advice or assistance in the community could help you achieve your outcomes
  • Whether you work or wish to work
  • Whether you participate or wish to participate in education, training or a leisure activity

What are the eligibility criteria for carers?

This is different depending on whether you're in England or Wales.

To be eligible for support in England, you must show that:

  1. You have a need for support that arises out of your providing care for an adult
  2. As a result, your physical or mental health is, or is at risk of, worsening. Or you're unable to achieve various things, such as:
    • Caring for a child
    • Caring for other people
    • Maintaining a habitable home environment
    • Maintaining nutrition
    • Developing and maintaining family or other relationships
    • Engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
    • Using facilities or services in the community
    • Engaging in recreational activities
  3. As a result of your needs there is, or is likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing

To be eligible for support in Wales, you must show that:

  1. You have a need for support that arises out of your providing care for an adult
  2. Your need must relate to a set of standard tasks, namely:
    • Ability to care for yourself or carry out domestic routines
    • Ability to communicate
    • Protection from abuse or neglect
    • Involvement in work, education, learning or leisure activities
    • Maintenance or development of family or other significant personal relationships
    • Development and maintenance of social relationships and involvement in the community
    • Fulfilment of caring responsibilities for a child
  3. You cannot meet your need either:
    • Alone
    • With the support of people who are able and willing to provide support
    • With help from community services that you have access to
  4. You're unlikely to achieve your personal outcomes (the things that you want to achieve in life) unless the local authority provides:
    • Support to you
    • Care and support to the person you're caring for
    • Direct payments.

What happens if I'm found to have eligible needs?

If you're assessed as having eligible needs for support, the local authority will have a duty to meet your needs if the person you're caring for is ordinarily resident in the local authority's area.

The local authority must prepare a support plan, which covers the same ground as an adult's care and support plan and can be reviewed in the same way.

Can carers be charged for support?

Most local authorities do not charge carers for support provided to meet their needs. If they do charge, they'll carry out a financial assessment to see what you can afford to pay. You should ask your local authority for their policy on this.

This information was published in February 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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