What is the Care Act?

The Care Act 2014, which came into effect from 1st April 2015, represents the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years, putting people and their carers in control of their care and support.

The Act combines various existing pieces of legislation which previously shaped how social care was arranged in Britain. The intention is that the Care Act will make it easier for the public to understand why things happen in a particular way.

Importantly the Care Act also changes many aspects of how support is arranged, and aims to give greater control and influence to those in need of support.

Among the most significant developments are:-

  • A new set of criteria that makes it clearer when local authorities across the country will have to provide support to people, and aims to ensure a fairer national system which reaches those most in need
  • A change to the way in which local authorities complete assessment with those in need of support – people in need of support will be encouraged to think about what outcomes they want to achieve in their lives – these outcomes can be anything, big or small, which will enable them to feel a greater sense of physical or emotional well-being
  • New rights for carers which put them on the same footing as the people they care for. All carers are entitled to an assessment. If a carer is eligible for support for particular needs, they have a legal right to receive support for those needs, just like the people they care for
  • A greater emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable people in our society from abuse and neglect.
  • A greater emphasis on prevention – local authorities and other providers of support will encourage and assist people to lead healthy lives which will reduce the chances of them needing more support in the future
  • A greater emphasis on local authorities providing clear information and advice which will help the public to make informed choices on their support arrangements, and enable them to stay in control of their lives
  • A greater emphasis on existing Personal Budgets which give people the power to spend allocated money on tailored care that suits their individual needs as part of their support plan
  • A greater emphasis on those most in need being given access to someone to speak up on their behalf when they are dealing with social care professionals
  • Greater regulation for those who provide professional care and support, and tougher penalties for those who do not provide care and support of a high enough standard
  • Changes to when and how people will be asked to contribute towards the cost of support which has been arranged in conjunction with their local authority – most of these changes will not come into effect until 2020.

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The key principles of the Care Act

The Care Act sets out some ‘key principles’ on how health and social care professionals should work with you. Those principles are:-

  • You know best
  • Your views, wishes, feelings and beliefs should always be considered
  • The main aim of professionals should be on your well-being, on reducing your need for care and support, and on reducing the likelihood that you will need care and support in the future
  • Any decisions made should take into account all relevant circumstances
  • Any decisions should be made with your involvement
  • Your well-being should be balanced with that of any involved family and friends
  • Professionals should always work to protect you and other people from abuse and neglect
  • Professionals should ensure that any actions taken to support protect you affect your rights and freedom as little as possible

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have any new rights as a carer? Do I lose any rights as a carer?

Yes, you do have new rights as a carer. From April 2015 you will be entitled to a carer’s assessment where you appear to have needs, which matches the rights of the person being cared for. This is different to the current situation where you have to show you provide ‘regular and substantial’ care to be entitled to a carer’s assessment. From April 2015 carers will also be entitled to support if they meet the eligibility criteria, unlike the current situation where the local authority have a ‘power’ to provide support to carers (which means it doesn’t have to).

No, you do not lose any rights you currently have as a carer.

Are the eligibility criteria for community care services changing?

Yes, from April 2015 there will be national eligibility criteria for both carers and the person being cared for. This will introduce a minimum threshold and if a carer or the person being cared for meets this threshold, they will have eligible needs. Following a financial assessment, the local authority will then have to agree with the person assessed which of their eligible needs they will meet and how.

This will be the first time that local authorities will be required to meet carer’s eligible needs directly, and a national eligibility criteria should make assessments for both carers and the people being cared for more uniform around the country and less like a ‘postcode lottery’. Having said this, local authorities will still have the option of meeting needs that fall below the national minimum threshold.

What are the ‘wellbeing’ principles which have been introduced?

The Care Act introduces a general duty on local authorities to promote an individual’s ‘wellbeing’. This means that they should always have a person’s wellbeing in mind and when making decisions about them or planning services.

Wellbeing can relate to:

  • personal dignity (including treatment of the individual with respect)
  • physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • protection from abuse and neglect
  • control by the individual over day-to-day life (including over care and support)
  • participation in work, education, training or recreation
  • social and economic wellbeing
  • domestic, family and personal relationships
  • suitability of living accommodation
  • the individual’s contribution to society

The wellbeing principles are also part of the eligibility criteria. Local authorities have to consider the impact of your role as a carer on your wellbeing. Similarly, they have to consider the impact of a disabled person’s needs on their wellbeing. If the impact is significant then the eligibility criteria are likely to be met.

Are the capital limits for receiving services changing from April 2015?

No, but it is planned that they will change from April 2020. Note that regulations confirming this have not yet been published, so this may be subject to change.

It is proposed that the upper capital limit for residential care where the value of someone’s home is included will rise from £23,250 to £118,000. The upper capital limit for residential care where the value of someone’s home is not included will rise from £23,250 to £27,000. The upper capital limit for community care will rise from £23,250 to £27,000.

The lower capital limit for both residential care and community care will rise from £14,250 to £17,000.

These changes mean that from April 2020 people who have capital and who were previously receiving some help from the local authority might receive more help, and people who have capital and who were previously self-funders might receive help for the first time.

If you’d like more information, please see the Care Act page on the

SCIE website: www.scie.org.uk

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