Since the Care Act 2014, the way people receive care and support has changed to be more consistent across England. The changes in the Care Act are designed to put you in control of the help you receive.
Any decisions about your care and support will consider your wellbeing and what is important to you and your family, so you can stay healthy and remain independent for longer.
The Act includes a 'wellbeing principle' to underpin the care and support system. This means that your wellbeing, and the outcomes which matter to you, should be at the heart of every decision that is made about your care and support. The Act also includes a duty for local authorities to provide or arrange services that help prevent people in their area from developing needs for care and support, or that delay the impact of their needs.
Local authorities now need to ensure that people can get the information and advice they need to make good decisions about care and support, and that they are able to choose from a range of care and support providers offering a choice of high-quality, appropriate services.
Councils' new duty to promote people's wellbeing applies not just to users of services, but also to carers. The Children and Families Act 2014 includes a duty to assess parent carers.
The Care Act also:
- sets consistent national rules to determine who is eligible for care and support, which local authorities must follow
- puts carers’ rights on the same footing as the people they care for, for the first time
- allows people to receive personal budgets in the form of direct payments, if they wish; this means you will be able to plan your own care and support and exercise control over how it is provided
- reforms the funding system for care and support, by introducing a cap on the care costs that people will incur in their lifetime; this will come into effect from April 2020
- provides for deferred payment agreements, so that people shouldn't have to sell their homes in their lifetime to pay for their care, by providing for a new universal deferred payments scheme
- gives new guarantees to ensure continuity of care when people move between areas, to remove the fear that people will be left without the care they need
- includes new protections to ensure that people don't go without care if their providers fails, regardless of who pays for their care
- has new provisions to ensure that young people are not left without care and support as they transition between child and adult care and support systems
Helping to prevent people developing care and support needs
The Care Act is designed to improve people’s independence and wellbeing. The law makes clear that local authorities must provide or arrange services that help prevent people developing needs for care and support or delay people getting to the point where they would need ongoing care and support.
Local authorities have to consider:
- what services, facilities and resources are already available in the area (for example, local voluntary and community groups), and how these might help local people
- which people in their area might have care and support needs that are not being met
- which carers in the area might have support needs that are not being met
Local authorities have to work with people in their communities to provide or arrange services that help to keep people well and independent. This should include identifying the local support and resources already available, and how people can be helped to access them.
Local authorities should also provide or arrange a range of services that are aimed at reducing needs and helping people regain skills – for instance, after a spell in hospital.
Providing information and advice
As a result of the Care Act 2014, local authorities have to provide comprehensive information and advice about care and support services in their local area. This should help people understand how care and support services work locally, the care and funding options available, and how people can access care and support services.
They have a duty to provide information on:
- the types of care and support available – such as specialised dementia care, befriending services, personal assistance, residential care – and the local providers
- the process people need to use to get the available care and support
- where people can find independent financial advice about care and support and how they can access it, so they can get support to plan and prepare for the future costs of care
- how people can raise concerns about the safety or wellbeing of someone who has care and support needs
This information and advice has to be provided in formats that help people to understand, regardless of their needs.
Improving the range and quality of services available
The Act requires local authorities to work to ensure that people can choose from a wide range of sustainable, high-quality care and support services that will be available locally. This will mean that people can make choices about their care and can have personalised care that works for them. Find out more in Your right to social care and support.
The Act requires local authorities to enable people to be able to choose from a wide range of sustainable, high-quality care and support services, which will be available locally.
When buying and arranging services, local authorities have to consider how they might affect your wellbeing. This includes planning the services that are likely to be needed in the future, and what new types of support may need to be developed. As part of this, local authorities should engage with local people about their wants and needs.