If you watch the news you’ll be aware that the system of care provision in this country is under pressure. We are about to see a huge change in the provision of adult social care when the Care Act 2014 comes into force on 1st April 2015. It will introduce a significant number of reforms to adult social work and care.

The Act introduces numerous changes including placing personal budgets on a legal footing and will impose on councils a duty to provide preventive services in supporting people’s health.

The legislation also introduces a national minimum eligibility threshold council-funded social care and a limit on the amount people will have to pay towards their own care costs. This particular aspect of the legislation has been widely reported in the media recently and is perhaps the area of most concern to many. For some however the detail may be confusing and it would be sensible to take advice on the new rules if considering long term care planning.

The Act reforms the law relating to care and support for adults and the law relating to support for carers. It also makes provision for safeguarding adults from abuse or neglect, makes provision about care standards and establishes Health Education England and the Health Research Authority.

Until now it’s been almost impossible for people who need care, carers, and even those who manage the care system, to understand how the previous law affecting them worked. The Care Act has created a single, modern law that makes it clear what kind of care people should expect.

From April 2015, social landlords and housing providers will have greater responsibility and participation in the consideration and planning of a person’s need for support and care. This is heavily enshrined in the Act as housing is explicitly referenced as being part of local authorities and with a new duty under the multi-agency policy to promote integration of health and care, social landlords and housing providers will find themselves at the forefront of the pursuit to shape the health and social care sector.

The basic requirement is placed on a local authority to promote ‘well-being’. ‘Well-being’ is defined as covering everything from personal dignity to social and economic well-being. This definition specifically includes looking at the suitability of living accommodation for an individual who is in need of assistance. There is then specific provision made for co-operation between private registered providers and local authorities, and internally in a local authority between its own housing department and those departments with care and support functions. Every council will have to have a ‘safeguarding adults board.’

Previous reform in relation safeguarding and the protection of vulnerable adults has been policy-led, underpinned by legislation, but with no substantive legal framework in place. The Care Act is aimed at establishing a number of principles and duties to assist those with a care need.

Statutory guidance states that all providers of services in public should ensure that their staff are aware of the new multi-agency policy and procedures that have been introduced by the Care Act. This guidance states that housing and housing support providers will need to ensure that they have clear operational policies and procedures in adult safeguarding, and that all staff are trained in recognising the symptoms of neglect and abuse and are able to respond to adult safeguarding concerns

Other measures in the Act include:

  • A duty on councils to consider the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of individuals in need of care;
  • New powers for the chief inspector of social care to hold poor-performing providers to account;
  • A requirement for councils to offer deferred payment schemes so that individuals do not have to sell their homes to pay for residential care in their lifetime;
  • New rights for carers including the right to an assessment of their needs and the right to get support if they meet eligibility criteria;

Regardless of changes being introduced it is essential to have control of your own affairs or for your family to have control in the event of incapacity by making a Lasting Power of Attorney.

In the meantime if you or someone you know is adversely affected by these budget constraints please do get in touch – Portia Woodhouse can be contacted by phone on 01626-202395 or by email at portiawoodhouse@wbw.co.uk