Carers' rights

Carers play a very important role in the support and recovery of people with an illness and disability and as such have certain rights.

Carers' assessment

All carers have recognised legal rights, set out in the following legislation: Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004.

As a carer, you are entitled to an assessment of your own needs (either mental health services or social services). A carer’s assessment does not judge your ability to care but rather is a chance for you to consider your own needs and what might help you to care if you wish to continue. As a carer, you are entitled to say at any point that you do not wish to continue in the role of carer (and this should be recorded in the notes of the person accessing the mental health services).

There is a requirement that carers are told of their entitlement to a carer’s assessment.

Carers' care plan

The National Service Framework for Mental Health states that carers not only have a right to an assessment, but also tp their own care plan. The care plan must be agreed and implemented in conjunction with the carer. Carers’ assessments and care plans should be repeated at least annually.

In addition to their statutory rights, Oxleas understands that carers should feel recognised and supported in their role. Oxleas has a Carers’ Charter (401kb) which details what families and carers can expect from our services. This is summarised below:

All Oxleas staff will ensure that carers will:

  • Be treated with dignity and respect
  • Be recognised as an important source of information about the person they care for
  • Have their expertise about the service user acknowledged
  • Be listened to and have their views taken into account
  • Feel supported and informed.


As a carer you may be able to claim certain benefits. The main benefit is carers allowance and you are able to apply for this if the following applies:

  • You must be 16 years old or over
  • You must look after someone for at least 35 hours a week
  • The person you look after must receive a qualifying disability benefit
  • If you work, you must not have net earnings above £95 a week
  • You must not get certain other benefits
  • You must be living in the UK when you claim Carer's Allowance and satisfy certain residence and immigration rules
  • You must not be a full-time student.

You do not need to have paid National Insurance contributions to claim Carer’s Allowance. Any savings that you have will not affect your entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

As well as claiming Carer’s Allowance for yourself, you can also claim an increase for your spouse or civil partner if they live with you, or for someone who looks after a child for you.

Carer's Allowance is currently £53.10 a week.

In addition to carers allowance there may be other benefits you are able to access, especially if you are unwell yourself. For further information please visit the Benefits for carers section of the NHS Choices website.

Nearest relative

If you are a family member/carer and are also the nearest relative you may have rights under the Mental Health Act 1983 (should your relative be detained under the act). Nearest relative is a legal term and is a clearly defined person as set out in section 26 of the act.

An approved mental health professional will look at the circumstances of the patient and decide which of their close relatives or partner is highest on the list.

  1. Husband, wife or civil partner (unless permanently separated). Partners are also included, including same sex partners, where a couple have been living together as husband and wife or as if they were civil partners for six months or more, unless one of them is married and not permanently separated.
  2. The oldest son or daughter (this includes adopted children).
  3. The older parent.
  4. The oldest brother or sister.
  5. The oldest grandparent.
  6. The oldest grandchild.
  7. The oldest aunt or uncle.
  8. The oldest nephew or niece.