''In 1993, when my M.E. became more severe and I finally got a diagnosis, my new GP refered me to Social Services and, following a visit from an OT, I received advice and a number of 'gadgets' to help at home.
''In 2006, I asked for a referral for my mother (who had just had a slight stroke) and myself. Nothing happened for me and my mother in my absence managed to fob off the assessor, who had turned up a day early, so no help was received.
''In 2008, my mother's health having deteriorated, I got her assessed without needing her permission (previously this hadn't been possible) and, having been told by my GP that I wouldn't be assessed, found a folder in his waiting room with forms for self-referral to the county's carer support group. I was contacted some weeks later, assessed by phone and given a carer's grant and ongoing telephone support from a designated worker who has proved very helpful. The grant has to be spent on an activity which will prove relaxing and a break from the caring role - receipts have to submitted when the money is spent.
''I have asked for similar support for my husband in his role as my carer and an assessment was done last week - I'm not sure of the outcome yet. Our local authority only provides money for personal care and, as I don't need this, I haven't applied for that kind of assessment recently.''