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Introduction to the Care Act

 

Cally Ward, CBF Policy Manager, gives an introduction to the Care Act...

Whether you are a family carer or a professional working in the field of health and social care, it is important that you understand the Care Act 2014. This article offers a brief introduction to the Act. If you have any queries in relation to a specific situation it is always advisable to seek professional legal advice.

The Care Act is an important piece of legislation because it spells out what Local Authorities (LAs) have to do to meet the needs of adults (people over the age of 18) and the family carers who support them. This article will concentrate primarily on wellbeing, the processes of assessment, and getting care and support under the Act.

Wellbeing is defined in the Act as including the following:

  • Personal dignity (including treating the person with respect);
  • Physical and mental health, and emotional wellbeing;
  • Protection from abuse and neglect;
  • Control over day-to-day life (including over care and support and the way it is provided);
  • Participation in work, education, training or recreation;
  • Social and economic wellbeing;
  • Domestic, family and personal relationships;
  • Suitability of living accommodation;
  • The person’s contribution to society.

The ‘vision’ of the Act is to actively promote wellbeing and independence, and not just wait to respond when people reach a crisis point. The Act gives a new duty to LAs to prevent, reduce and delay the need for care and support and crisis intervention.

There are many ways that the LA can promote wellbeing: through their duty to provide good quality information; by developing a joined-up approach between health and social care in the community; and by ensuring that there are a range of support providers with the skills and capacity to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities whose behaviour is described as challenging, and to support their families.

The Care Act emphasizes person-centred care and individualized support, and the need to understand the person by focusing on what matters to them, not just fitting them into pre-existing services. The person is viewed as part of a family and wider community – and family and friends are recognised as full and equal partners in planning.

For the first time in legislation the Care Act recognises that (family) carers have ‘parity of esteem’ with the person they support, which means equal value of their needs. The LA has a duty to assess a carer’s needs, where it appears they might have needs in their own right. At the heart of the Care Act 2014 is this process for assessing needs, determining whether the person (or the carers’) needs are eligible needs and, if they are, developing a Care and Support plan to meet them.  Although the eligibility is slightly different for adults and carers the process is similar.

The objective of the assessment is to get a full picture of the person (or the carer) and how needs or caring responsibilities impact on their day-to-day wellbeing. Assessments must always be person-centred. The LA has a duty to assess needs in relation to a person’s (or carer’s) wellbeing as described above, and the assessor should be ‘appropriately trained’.

The Care Act has established a national eligibility around whether the person is not able to achieve at least two ‘Specified Outcomes’ without assistance and this has a significant impact on their wellbeing. The specified outcomes for adults in the Care Act (there are different ones for carers) include being able to manage and maintain nutrition, personal hygiene, toilet needs, and being appropriately clothed. They also include being able to: maintain a habitable and safe home environment; develop and maintain family or other personal relationships; access and engage in work, training, education or volunteering; make use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport, and recreational facilities or services.

It is important that the Care and Support Plan accurately reflects the person’s (or carer’s) needs, as well as their preferences and choices about how to meet these needs. The plan should also specify in a very concrete way what has to be done to meet them, and how, when, and by whom the support will be delivered. The Care and Support Plan must be regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure it continues to meet the person’s needs.

A new duty in the Care Act is to include a Personal Budget in the Care and Support Plan. The Personal Budget can be taken as a Direct Payment but it does not have to be. There are a number of different ways that support can be provided directly or through the use of a contract with provider/s. What is important is that people and carers have a choice, and control over the best way for them to get the care and support they need.

 

Further information:

 

Care Act: The Basics – including a short animated film produced by SCIE

Care Act 2014: How do you know your council is successfully embedding the Care Act?

PfA Factsheet: The Links between the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act

For Carers: Carers UK Fact Assessment and the Care Act

Family Care and Support Service are offering free workshops for groups of family carers on the Care Act for more details go to: www.hft.org.uk/careactworkshops

 

This article is from the 2016 Summer edition of 'Challenge', the Newsletter of the CBF. You can download a pdf copy of the newsletter, or read it online.

 

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