The Care Act (2014) came into effect in April 2015. It made widespread changes to adult social care in England and, significantly for carers, brought in the same rights to assessment and support as the people they care for. It has given carers the chance to be recognised in their own right. The Act embeds people’s right to choice and taking control of their care and support.
The Care Act (2014) is mainly for adults in need of care and support, and their adult carers. There are some provisions for the transition of children in need of care and support, parent carers and young carers. However the main provisions for these groups are in the Children & Families Act (2014).
There were several principles to the Care Act (2014):
- Wellbeing – the promotion of wellbeing is the driving force behind the Care Act (2014). Wellbeing has a broad definition and includes: personal dignity, physical and mental health, protection from abuse and neglect, control over day-to-day life and participation in work, education or training.
- Information – local authorities now have a duty to provide an information and advice service to everyone in their area about the types of care and support available, including how to access independent financial advice.
- Assessment – carers now have a legal right to be assessed for local authority support in addition to an assessment for the person they are caring for. This assessment must be provided to everyone who appears to need care and support regardless of their finances or whether the local authority thinks their needs will be eligible.
- Eligibility – the Care Act (2014) puts in place an eligibility threshold across the country setting a national level to assess if needs qualify for funded services. This replaces the old system which allowed local authorities to choose between four levels of eligibility creating differences depending on your postcode.
- Prevention – there is now a focus on preventing and delaying needs rather than only intervening when situations reach crisis point. Local authorities have a duty to provide or arrange for services, facilities or resources which will prevent or delay people’s care needs from deteriorating, thereby empowering individuals and carers to make informed and considered decisions about care and support.
- Diversity – the act makes it clear that there should be a diverse range of quality care providers available to choose from.
- Personalised – local authorities have a legal duty to provide a personalised care and support plan for individuals or carers, if required. The Care Act (2014) also provides people with a legal entitlement to a personal budget which breaks down the cost of care and support, even if care is not being provided by the local authority, and this must be included in every plan.
- Financial – in most cases, the local authority will not charge for providing support to carers. However, if there is a charge, the local authority must carry out a financial assessment to decide what the carer can afford to pay. If a carer has eligible needs but has assets above the financial threshold, then the local authority can charge for services. The personal budget will include the amount the carer will pay, if any, and the amount the local authority will pay.
- Continuity – any adult receiving care and support who moves home will continue to receive care on the day of their arrival in the new area. This will ensure that there should be no gap in care and support when people choose to move home. This duty requires the new authority to meet any needs that were being met by the original local authority from the day that the person moves in the new area, this also applies to any carer moving with that person. The duty only remains until the new authority has reassessed and put in place care and support according to the new assessment.
- Transition – this provides for better planning for young people (including young carers) during their transition between Children’s and Adults services, ensuring that any gaps are met by Children’s services until Adult Services are ready to take over. It also provides for any parents and other carers of disabled children approaching adulthood to be assessed for support from Adult Services. This is essential to assist young people and their families to move from Children’s Services and prepare for adulthood in the best way possible with the help and support of adult services.