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Advocacy for Carers

A carer is someone of any age whose life is restricted because they are looking after a friend, relative, partner or person who cannot manage without help, because of illness, age or a disability of any kind.

Someone who is paid to undertake their caring role is therefore not a carer, although some carers may be in receipt of Invalid Care Allowance or in full time employment.

Carers fall broadly into 3 categories:

  • Adult carers - an adult caring for another adult such as a spouse, partner, friend or relative.
  • Parent carers - an adult who cares for an ill or disabled child.
  • Young carers - a child or young person who is carrying out significant caring tasks and assuming a level of responsibility for another person which would usually be taken by an adult. This may be a sibling or a parent.


Carers are a valuable resource and their contribution to community care far exceeds the combined efforts of statutory and voluntary agencies. The continued health and well being of carers is vital to the success of community care.

The impact of caring responsibilities on people's working lives and on their income cannot be ignored. Many carers give up work or reduce their hours of work to care. Many carers in paid work report an impact of their own physical and emotional health as a result of juggling a paid job with caring. Those carers who give up work to care, face the prospect of lost earnings, and the subsequent impact on savings and pensions, as well as the loss of skills in practice, and the disadvantage they might face in trying to return to work when caring ends.

Carers are also a source of important information as they are close to day to day problems and experience first hand services provided. They are therefore ideally placed to feedback vital information regarding the effectiveness and quality of existing services, and suggest ways of improvement.
Carers can also challenge assumptions and raise awareness of issues facing people living and caring at home - they are therefore well placed to influence planning and policies.

Working with and listening to carers will therefore enable all agencies to make more effective use of resources. If the services required are not provided, there may be short term savings, but there will most definitely be additional expenditure in the long term.  



   The Children Act 1989 gives local authorities the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and is therefore relevant both to young carers and parent carers of children with disabilities and special needs.
The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 built on previous legislation and gives carers the right to ask for their own assessment. Assessment is the key both to individual choice and provision of appropriate support and is also integral to the development of a systematic collation of carers' needs to support service planning. It is therefore vital to ensure that carers' needs are considered and recorded as part of any assessment. However, the right to assessment was qualified by two main factors:

  • The carer must be providing "substantial care on a regular basis".
  • The person care for must also have an assessment for community care.


The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 now gives carers the right to an assessment even when the disabled person refuses an assessment. It also gives parents of children with disabilities the right to request an assessment and empowers local authorities to provide services.

Having listened to the carers view, the Local Authority must take into account the result of the carers assessment when deciding what services to provide to the person who is being care for.

It is clear that many carers are still not aware of their right to a separate assessment. However, Department of Health guidance clearly states that local authorities should offer carers the right to a separate, confidential interview i.e. it is not incumbent on the carer to ask.  



The objectives of this Council are:

  • To raise awareness of carers issues, and help to keep them on the agenda of all relevant agencies.
  • To set out key values and principles for services to carers in the form of a local Carers Charter.
  • To improve the quality and increase the availability of information to carers.


To promote and support the appropriate involvement of carers in:

  • Discussions and decisions around the individual care and treatment plans of the people they care for.
  • Monitoring the quality and standards of care and treatment.
  • The development of strategies and services.


To identify and promote good practice across all purchasers and providers of:

  • Community Care and Children's Services
  • Health Services
  • Housing Services


Key Principles


Carers should have recognition:

  • Of the value of their contribution to health and social care for people in need.
  • Of their differing needs as individuals.
  • Of their needs for a range of practical and emotional support.
  • Of their expertise and skills.
  • Of the need to involve carers in monitoring services and the importance of taking into account their experiences in the evaluation of services.


Carers should have choice:

  • Subject to their own cultural beliefs.
  • On whether or not to take on or continue their caring role.
  • On whether or not to become involved in the assessment of the person they care for.
  • To have an assessment of their own needs.
  • To be consulted on and involved in planning services that they and the person they care for receive.
  • To use advocacy and mediation services.


Carers should have information:

  • Which is coordinated and easily accessible.
  • Which is available at all stages, especially before, but also during and after caring.
  • Which is available in a range of formats and languages.
  • About all relevant services including housing advice.
  • About charges, entitlements and welfare benefits.


Carers should be provided with appropriate practical help:

  • Which promotes their good health.
  • Through good assessment procedures, tailoring services to individual needs.
  •  Which includes a range of good quality flexible services planned with carers and including practical help such as laundry, shopping, housework and sitting services. Which includes opportunities for short and longer breaks.
  • Which includes the development of greater range of innovative and flexible respite services.
  • Which includes counselling and support to deal with all aspects of caring including the end of caring responsibilities.


The financial cost of caring should be minimised:

  • By ensuring information and advice on benefits and entitlements throughout caring is available.
  • By keeping charges to a minimum, but without reducing quality and quantity through carer sensitive practices by all employers which allow carers to continue in paid employment.
  • By providing advice about employment opportunities during and after caring.


Services and information should be co-ordinated within and across agencies in order to best meet the needs of carers:

  • Carer sensitive policy and practice should be encouraged.
  • Carer sensitive admission and discharge policies should be developed in all hospitals.
  • Wherever possible and subject to confidentiality and choice, relevant information should be shared between agencies.


Carers should be involved in planning and monitoring the services they receive:

  • In order to properly reflect the differing needs of carers and to take into account their culture, race, religion, gender, age, disability or illness.
  • Organisations should continue to explore creative ways to involve carers in the planning process.
  • Carers should be encouraged to express their views about services they and person cared for receive.
  • Carers views should be listened to and recorded.
  • Carers should always receive feedback on their contribution and what has happened as a result.



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Health and Social Care

Bedford Borough Council is responsible for social care services within the borough. This section explains how we support people of all ages who may need care either at home or in another setting.


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