Carers – how is the Care Act 2014 going to help you?

Care Act 2014

Care Act 2014

It’s here at last; the Care Act 2014. This new law is intended by the Government as the biggest reform in social care for 60 years.

Part 1 of the Act comes into force in April 2015 and the remaining parts of the Act relating to the cap of £72,000 on individual care costs are due for introduction in April 2016.

What does the Care Act 2014 do?

The Care Act is intended to introduce sweeping changes to the way people’s needs are assessed and their care is delivered. The idea is to create a more joined-up system that focuses not just on the person needing care but on their family and carers too.

What does this mean in practice?
Local authorities now have a duty to assess the physical, mental and emotional well being of the person being assessed, rather than just assessing physical needs.
Under the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 social services departments had a duty to carry out an assessment of a person with care needs.

Unfortunately, the care support they actually provide to people supports critical or substantial needs only; leaving many carers feeling abandoned and left to cope alone or without proper support.

Is care assessment going to be the same throughout the country?
Under the new Care Act the Government is setting a minimum eligibility threshold so there will be a national set of criteria to make it clear when local authorities must support people. It’s hoped this will do away with councils setting their own thresholds resulting in a ‘post code lottery’ for people needing care support.

How do Personal Budgets help?

The Act also aims to put more control into the hands of the person receiving care services by means of Personal Budgets. This means that following a care assessment a person will have the power to decide how money is spent on their care as part of their care plan. The intention is that a person’s care can be more closely tailored to their needs and wishes if they have a say in how money for their care package is actually spent. In theory this should help carers as well, if the person receiving care can get the type of support that is most suitable for their needs.

Direct support for carers

Under the out-going system, although local authorities can offer an assessment of carer needs they don’t have to. The Care Act says local authorities will now be obliged to offer every carer an assessment, even if the carer is not giving a substantial amount of support to the person they care for.

What’s the purpose of a carer’s assessment?
A carer’s assessment is carried out to establish what needs they have in their caring role. In future, these assessments should concentrate on finding out what ability the carer has to provide care and most importantly whether they are going to be able to carry on being a carer for the person they care for and whether they are going to want to continue doing so in the future.

What things will the carer’s assessment cover?
The assessment should cover whether the carer has a job in addition to caring for someone, or if they want to start work and how much time they spend or want to spend in education, training or leisure time. Until now carers’ assessments have mostly been about the amount of care the person gives to someone else.

How much support will carers get?
If a carer’s needs are assessed to be eligible for support they will have a legal right to receive support and the support they get will be standardised throughout the country. There should no longer be differences in the level of support for the same type of need between local authority areas.

We’ll have to wait and see what effect the new changes will actually have and whether indviduals notice a real difference in the way the social care system affects them.

If you think you or someone you care for have been wrongly assessed talk to us – we can help. For advice and information about care assessments click here