I wanted to keep you all up to date with what’s happening in the world of care right now. The lion’s share of a new Care Act came in to force on 1st April 2015 and replaces much of the current law and legislation that relates to people being cared for and their carers. The main points to be aware of are:
- The person requiring care should be at the centre of any decision making process
- Anyone who cares for another person is now eligible for an assessment of their own needs (if this has been refused in the past, it may be worth trying again)
- The way in which needs are assessed and determined for the person being cared for and for carers has now been standardised across all local authorities with a new minimum eligibility criteria being introduced.
- In carrying out this assessment, local authorities must be mindful of the well-being of the person when determining the type of care or help they need.
- 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
- well-being of the carer and the person being cared for also forms part of the new eligibility criteria
- the adult has “eligible” needs
- the adult is “ordinarily resident” in the local area (which means their established home is there) and
- any of the 5 situations apply to them
- the type of care and support they need is provided free of charge
- the person cannot afford to pay the full cost of their care and support
- the person asks the local authority to meet their needs
- the person does not have mental capacity, and has no one else to arrange care for them; or
- when the cap on care costs comes into force, their total care and support costs have exceeded the cap
[break]In April 2016 the final parts of the Care Act will come into force, most notably how local authorities should charge for both residential and community care, and the introduction of the ‘care cap’, though final guidance on this has yet to be produced.
It is expected that from April 2016 there will be cap on the maximum amount of care costs a person will pay during their lifetime. At this point, the government have announced that the cap will be set at £72,000 for those of retirement age, but the regulations have still to be published. The cap will apply to the cost of care received either for care at home or in residential care.
Because it is believed that the number of assessments that are needed will increase, it may be that local authorities may pass some of this work to other private or charitable agencies to enable them to keep pace with the predicted demand for assessments of need.
Currently there are four categories of need: critical, substantial, moderate and low. At the moment there is no obligation for any local authority to provide support for anyone who falls outside the critical or substantial categories. Though the new eligibility criteria have yet to be tested it is felt that some lower needs may now fall into the critical or substantial category meaning that more people may become eligible for care, particularly as the “well-being principle” must be taken into account during the assessment process.