The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 came into force on 1 April 1996. It entitles carers who are providing substantial amounts of care on a regular basis to an assessment of their needs and ability to care. Local authorities are required to take the results of this assessment into account when making decisions about services. This paper reports the key findings of a two-year study, conducted in Wales, that evaluated the process and outcomes of assessments carried out under the auspices of the Carers Act. The findings offer insights to policy makers and practitioners and profile how care managers assess carers' needs. In addition, the paper describes carers' qualitative experiences of the assessment process and the difficulties care managers encounter in translating into practice the policy emphasis on supporting carers. It is suggested that separate carer assessments are not an established feature of care management practice and that care managers lack an explicit framework to direct the assessment of carers' needs.