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The first part of the much talked about and consulted on Care Act 2014 comes into force in England and Wales on 1 April 2015.
The Act can be divided into two distinct sections – the provision of care and how it is charged for. It is the provision of care element that comes into force this year with the financial provisions set to come into force on 1 April 2016.
Main aims of the Care Act are:
Update and bring together current policies contained in existing Acts and guidance. Previous Acts covering social care reflect the ideas at the time the Act came into force. Much of this, including the language used, is out of date with today’s thinking.
Promote the overall well being of an individual. This “well being principle” is the central message throughout the Act and applies to every decision a Local Authority makes. The Principle sets out a list of outcomes which a Local Authority must try and achieve as well as a checklist that must be worked through when considering how to act.Aim to make the level of care more uniform across the country and eliminate the “post code lottery” for services. Any future changes to policy will now have to be made by way of Regulations rather than simply issuing guidance. Some of the problems with differing care levels have arisen as the status of guidance is unclear with some Local Authorities adhere strictly to the guidance issued whilst others choose to ignore it completely.
- Put the safeguarding principles on a statutory footing. This was previously only contained in guidance. Local Authorities are now under a duty to investigate if they have any concerns about safety of an individual.
- Give individuals better access to information and guidance, in particular financial advice and encourage them to take financial advice where necessary.
- Encourage cooperation with third parties where necessary for example, NHS, the police or another Local Authority.
- Make the transition from children’s social care services to adult social care services smoother.
- Make moving location easier for people requiring adult social care (known as “portable assessments”).
In addition to this the Act also gives carers the right to be assessed for their own needs as well as those they care for and the Local Authority are now under a duty to carry out the assessment and, where necessary, provide services which the carer is not able to provide. The Act will create a lot of extra work for Local Authorities, in particular, the number of assessments they will have to carry out. They have been preparing for the implementation for some time now but, as with any new law, how it works in practise will remain to be seen.
There’s not much you can do about the local authority, except wait-and-see. However, there are things you can do to help protect yourself and your family if the issue of care ever arises. One is to review your Will now: some Wills can help to ring fence assets away from care fees. For more information on our Wills service click here. Another is to make an LPA for your health and welfare as well as one for your finances. A financial LPA ensures that someone you trust can look after your finances if you either become incapable of doing so, or just want some help. A health one enables someone you trust to have a say in where you live and what treatment you receive if you become incapable of making those decisions. They are a form of insurance against an uncertain future and like any insurance, are best done early rather than (too) late.
For more information on our LPA services click here. For more information on The Care Act please contact Amy Wallhead on 01223 461155 or click here to email Amy.