Difficulties in getting parent carers needs assessments

Parent carers are reporting difficulties getting assessments of their own need for support as well as getting an assessment of the child’s needs.  Reasons given by councils for refusing to assess include:

  • that their child has not got a diagnosis;
  • that the parent is ‘just a parent and every parent is a carer’; and
  • that the child does not meet the criteria of disability as ADHD or PTSD or autism is not considered to be a disability.[1]

 

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 section 24 places a duty on councils to undertake assessments of people providing care for a disabled child if it appears that they ‘may’ have needs for support. This is a considerable advance on the duty that existed before the 2014 Act came into force.

The 2014 Act does not adopt a ‘medical model’ of disability and so requiring a diagnosis is inappropriate behaviour for a council.[2]  The Act interprets disability in the same way as the Equality Act 2010 (section 6):  this defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.  This is a broad definition,which would clearly include children with significant ADHD or PTSD or autism (including those have an IQ above 70 or are ‘high functioning’).

A parent of a disabled child is not ‘just a parent’ and the SSWA 2014 addresses this directly by stating (at section 21(7)) that there is a presumption that disabled children ‘need care and support in addition to, or instead of, the care and support provided by the child’s family’.

Parent carers have a right to an ordinary life like any other parent – and this includes a right to work, as well as to take part in education, training and leisure activities.  Of course all parents have to care for their children but finding a nursery, an after school / holiday club, child minder etc for a disabled child can be much more difficult and more expensive than finding one for a non-disabled child.  It is for that reason that the section 21(7)) presumption (noted above) exists.

Section 24 of the Act specifically requires that the council, when undertaking a carers aassessment, determines not only whether carer is able to continue to provide care (without support) but also whether they are willing to do this.  Regard must also be had to the carer’s well-being and specifically ‘to identify the outcomes that the carer wishes to achieve’; whether ‘the carer works or wishes to do so’ and whether the carer is participating in or wishes to participate in education, training or any leisure activity.

The duty to consider such matters as employment, education, training and leisure was present in the law before the SSWA 2014 came into force and the Ombudsman was forthright about the importance of this obligation in a report concerning Swansea (where the parent carer was seeking to continue his studies at University  – click here to access this).  The English law makes the same provision and a recent report concerning the importance of a parent carer being able to remain in work is also well worth reading (click here to access this).

For details of relevant Guides – see:

 

[1]See the note below – and the post ‘Autistic children and care assessments’.
[2]See also Cerebra Social Care in Wales: A guide for parents p33 para 3.6 Can my local authority refuse to carry out an assessment if my child does not have a medical diagnosis? (2017).