Parliament has approved the Care Bill, which has now become the Care Act 2014, bringing in significant reforms to adult social work. The Act has been described as ushering in four big shifts:
- from repair to prevention
- from a fragmented system to an integrated one
- from paternalistic social care to much more personalised care
- and from quite an ‘exclusive’ statutory service to collaboration between services, individuals, and communities
Carers will be entitled to assessments in their own right and to have support (provided they meet new eligibility criteria), even if the cared-for person is not a user of Adult Services social care.
The social care needs of people in prison will also come under the remit of the local authority.
There is also a huge emphasis on greater support being given to people who are trying to navigate their own way through care, and to those with lower level needs in the form of information and advice.
The idea is for the first changes to start coming into play from April 2015.
key changes in brief
- putting personal budgets on a legal footing
- placing a duty on councils to provide preventive services to support people’s health
- a national minimum eligibility threshold across England for council-funded social care
- new rights for carers including the right to an assessment of their needs and the right to get support if they meet eligibility criteria
- a limit on the amount people will have to pay towards their own care costs
- a requirement for councils to offer deferred payment schemes so that individuals do not have to sell their homes to pay for residential care in their lifetime
- a duty on councils to consider the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of individuals in need of care
- councils will have to offer information and advice to help everyone understand what support they’ll need to help them better plan for the future
- new powers for the chief inspector of social care to hold poor-performing providers to account
- better information to help people identify good care – and give them an opportunity to give feedback on the service they’re getting. The new online provider profiles on the NHS Choices website are supposed to help people choose, compare and comment on care homes and other care services.
- local authorities will be required to carry out their care and support functions with the aim of integrating services with those provided by the NHS and any other health related services such as housing
Care Act factsheets
The Dept of Health has published a series of 11 factsheets covering different aspects of the Care Act 2014; for example, Assessments and eligibility, Carers, Charging, Transition, and Safeguarding.