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A carer is an individual, an adult or a child, who provides unpaid help and support on a regular basis to a partner, family member, friend or relative. 

They may provide practical help, care, physical or emotional support to a person who is vulnerable for a wide variety of reasons, whether through age, physical or mental illness, disability or other issues such as substance misuse. Carers are a diverse group and have a range of caring situations, some develop slowly over time for example with older age, others suddenly and unexpectedly or from the birth of a child with a disability or a dramatic change in family circumstances.

Some people choose to become a carer, but others find themselves in this situation as a result of circumstances and without feeling that they have had this choice to make. This can occur at any age and taking on the responsibilities of caring can have a major effect on an individual’s life, often leading to isolation and exhaustion.

For adult carers it can also impact on their ability to work, for parent carers this can be a dramatic effect on a family’s lifestyle, and for young carers it can hold back their educational progress, lead to high levels of anxiety and limit their social life.

Young carers

Young carers are children and young people who take on the responsibility of caring for a family member, a parent or sibling. If you are a young carer yourself, or if you are a parent caring for a disabled child, you have similar rights to assessment and support but they are covered by the Children and Families Act, not the new Care Act. 

If you or the person you are caring for is about to reach the age of 18 years, you will be able to get a 'transition assessment' which will let you know whether you or they are likely to be eligible for support as an adult caring for another adult. 

Parent carers

If you are a parent of a disabled child aged under 18, your child can be assessed by the local authority under law relating to the needs of children in the Children and Families Act 2014. You will also be assessed as part of that process because social services will look at the needs of the family as a whole. This is often referred to as a "holistic" assessment. 

The assessment should take into account detailed information about your family, including: 

  • the family’s background and culture 
  • your own views and preferences 
  • the needs of any other children you have

The assessment is not a test of your parenting skills, but should be a sensitive look at any difficulties the family has as a whole, with a view to considering what support or services are needed.

A care plan will be drawn up that would include services to benefit both you and your disabled child. For example, there could be adaptations to the home, help with bathing or regular respite breaks to ensure you get the rest you need. 

You could also choose to have a direct payment so that you can buy in your own services for your child. 

Carers for adults 

The Care Act 2014 makes carer's assessments more widely available to people in caring roles. For more information, read about the Care Act changes for carers. Local authorities now have a legal duty to assess any carer who requests one or who appears to need support.

To find out more about support for parent carers and young carers visit the NHS website.

'Support for carers' is what we mean by the help and advice that carers can get from the council, national services and local networks. As a carer, you may be able to get more help so that you can carry on caring and look after your own wellbeing.

To find more about support for carers visit Caring for Carers and other carers services on the Plymouth Online Directory or the NHS website.

For more information please email

Further information

  • Care Act Factsheets - these provide an overview, and describe the duties and powers of councils to carry out the changes. 


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