The Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 is a dramatic peace of legislation. It aims to modernise adult social care law and create a holistic framework for

Clearer, fairer care and support
Wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional – of both the person needing care and their carer
Prevention and delay of the need for care and support
People in control of their care.
A new emphasis on wellbeing of the individual being the central aim of the legislation and the driving force behind care and support.

We at Paul Darnborough Solicitors are concerned that the act is not capable of delivering all that it offers. Indeed it is the failings in delivery of the services statutorily required that may demand our intervention.

In plain English, what the Act says it will do, will be different to what it does. If so we are here to make sure the law is applied correctly for your benefit. We think the promise will be different from the reality which will lead to legal challenges.

To discuss it’s impact on you, please do not hesitate to make a confidential appointment to consider this evolving area of legislation.

For those with an enquiring mind, background reading follows…

Background Reading
The Principles

The Care Act was first published as a Bill in the House of Lords on 9 May 2013, following prelegislative scrutiny. The legislation, which aims to modernise adult social care law, received Royal Assent on the 14 May 2014, becoming the Care Act (the Act).

The Act is divided into three main parts:

Part One deals with the reform of adult social care and support legislation and is structured around an individual’s journey through the reformed system (be they someone in need of care, or their carer). The Act will put a limit on the amount those receiving care will have to pay towards the costs of their care, with a cap on care costs beginning in April 2016. The remainder of Part One of the Act, such as national eligibility criteria and universal deferred payments, will come into force in April 2015.
In summary, Part One covers a number of areas, including:
the general responsibility of local authorities as enshrined in Section 1, ‘wellbeing principle’
assessment of needs and defining eligible need
charging and the cap on care costs
paying for care
safeguarding
provider failure
transition for children to adult services.

Part Two of the Act seeks to improve care standards by putting people and their carers in control of their care and support. It also provides a legislative response to the Francis Inquiry by increasing transparency and openness. The intention is to enhance the quality of care.

Part Three of the Act establishes Health Education England and the Health Research Authority this has little concern for us at this stage.
The Care Act replaces a whole host of care provisions to unify the law in one act that makes the demanding area of Care law manageable.

Said Care Minister Norman Lamb:

“Until now it’s been almost impossible for people who need care, carers, and even those who manage the care system, to understand how the previous law affecting them worked. Over nearly 70 years, it has been added to again and again and is out of date and confusing. The Care Act has created a single, modern law that makes it clear what kind of care people should expect.”

The Care Act 2014 builds on recent reviews and reforms, replacing numerous previous laws, to provide a coherent approach to adult social care in England.

Part one of the Act (and its Statutory Guidance) consolidates and modernises the framework of care and support law; it set out new duties for local authorities and partners, and new rights for service users and carers.

What does the Act aim to achieve?

Clearer, fairer care and support
Wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional – of both the person needing care and their carer
Prevention and delay of the need for care and support
People in control of their care.
A new emphasis on wellbeing

The new statutory principle of individual wellbeing underpins the Act, and is the driving force behind care and support.

Prevention

Local authorities (and their partners in health, housing, welfare and employment services) must now take steps to prevent, reduce or delay the need for care and support for all local people.

Integration

The Act includes a statutory requirement for local authorities to collaborate, cooperate and integrate with other public authorities e.g. health and housing.

It also requires seamless transitions for young people moving to adult social care services.

Information, advice and advocacy

The Act places a duty on local authorities to ensure that information and advice on care and support is available to all and when they need it. Independent advocacy must also be arranged if a person would otherwise be unable to participate in, or understand, the care and support system.

Diverse care markets

There must be diversity and quality in the market of care providers so that there are enough high-quality services for people to choose from. Local authorities must also step in to ensure that no vulnerable person is left without the care they need if their service closes due to business failure.

Safeguarding

A new statutory framework protects adults from neglect and abuse. Safeguarding adults boards will be set up in every area Assessment and eligibility. Anybody, including a carer, who appears to need care or support is entitled to an assessment, regardless of financial contact with the council, must focus on outcomes important to the individual. Any needs currently being met by a carer should still be included in the assessment. The local authority must then apply a national eligibility threshold to determine whether the individual has eligible needs.

Assessment and eligibility

Anybody, including a carer, who appears to need care or support is entitled to an assessment, regardless of financial contact with the council, must focus on outcomes important to the individual. Any needs currently being met by a carer should still be included in the assessment. The local authority must then apply a national eligibility threshold to determine whether the individual has eligible needs.

Charging and financial assessment

If the type of care being considered is chargeable, then the local authority must carry out a financial assessment. From April 2015, all councils must offer deferred payments and from April 2016, all people with eligible needs will have a care account to set out the notional costs accumulated to date towards their cap on care costs.

Care and support planning

A local authority must help a person decide resources. The assessment, which starts at first how their eligible needs will met through the preparation of a care and support plan or support plan for carers, and review it regularly.

Personal budgets and direct payments

A personal budget will form part of the care and support plan or support plan. Where a person, including a carer, has a personal budget, they can have a direct payment. From April 2016, self-funders with eligible needs will have an independent personal budget (IPB) to record the notional cost of meeting their eligible needs.

When will the Act become effective?

Most of the changes take effect from April 2015. However, the major reforms to the way that social care is funded – including the care cap and care account – will not come into operation until April 2016.

Summary

The Care Act consolidates good practice in statute as well as bringing in new reforms. It should embed and extend personalisation in social care as well as increasing the focus on wellbeing and prevention. It should also enable local authorities and partners to have a wider focus on the whole population in need of care, rather than just those with eligible needs and/or who are state-funded. For people who need care and support, and their carers, there will be:

better access to information and advice, preventative services, and assessment of need
an entitlement to care and support
a new model of paying for care, with a cap on the care costs for which an individual is liable
a common system across the country (national eligibility threshold)