The Care Act has been updated in March 2016.
The Government says the new Care Act 2014 is the biggest reform to the social care system in the UK since the NHS was created 66 years ago. The Care Act aims to simplify all the other social care laws and tries to make it clear exactly what care and support people can expect.
In England, millions of people provide unpaid care or support to an adult family member or friend, either in their own home or somewhere else.
‘Caring’ for someone covers lots of different things, like helping with their washing, dressing or eating, taking them to regular appointments or keeping them company when they feel lonely or anxious.
If this sounds like you, from April 2015, changes to the way care and support is provided in England mean you may be able to get more help so that you can carry on caring and look after your own wellbeing.
The Care Act recognises that people are happier and have a better quality of life if they are healthy and can stay independent and in control of what they do.
If they do need help because of health problems or a disability then their experience of receiving care and support will be much more positive if they have choice over how they are supported, and can stay in control of their lives as much as possible.
It says that councils must provide information and advice on how people can lead healthier and more active lives, and on what care and support will be available to them should the need arise.
From April 2015, the way care and support needs are assessed in England is changing for the better, meaning that decisions made about the help you receive will consider your wellbeing and what is important to you and your family.
For the first time, there will be a national level of care and support needs that all councils will consider when we assess what help we can give to you. This may result in you being eligible for care and support, and will make it easier for you to plan for the future.
Whatever your level of need, we will be able to put you in touch with the right organisation to support your wellbeing and help you remain independent for longer.
For some time it has been possible for people who are eligible for support from their local council to receive that support through a personal budget, and to then have more control over their support using a direct payment.
But the Care Act states that from April 2015 councils will need to assign a personal budget to all people who are eligible for support. The personal budget is the amount of money needed to cover the cost of the support for which a person is eligible.
All people who are eligible for support from their council should then be given a support plan which explains what support they need, how this support will be arranged, and how much the support will cost. People should be involved in writing up their support plan as much as possible, so that it makes sense to them and reflects their views and wishes.
And as many people as possible who are eligible for support should then be offered the chance to receive a direct payment - this is a sum of money which they can then use to arrange and pay for their care and support themselves, so that they can stay in control of their care arrangements and in control of their lives.
Care and support is changing for the better
The changes mean that more people will be able to get the care and support they need, either from the council or from other organisations in the community. Different ways to pay for care and support will be available across the whole of England, so people should not have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care. People who receive care and support from the council will have more say over what sort of help they get. And there will also be more help available for people who give unpaid care and support to an adult family member or friend.
From April 2016, financial support will be available to more people, and everyone will be protected from unlimited care and support costs.
On 17 July 2015, the Government announced that it was postponing the proposed changes regarding financial reform until April 2020.
The proposed changes included a lifetime cap of no more than £72,000 for individuals on reasonable care costs to meet their eligible needs and an increase in the capital threshold for people in residential care who own their own home.
The Care Act will not significantly change the way in which frontline council staff and others will support vulnerable people who have been subjected to abuse and neglect.
But where a person involved in a Safeguarding Enquiry or Review needs help to understand and take part in the process, and to express their views, councils will now need to ensure that there is someone involved who can speak on the person's behalf.
And the Care Act means that councils and other organisations will need to work more closely together to ensure that people are protected when they experience abuse or neglect, and will need to develop shared plans which will help to reduce the numbers of future incidents of abuse or neglect.
The Care Act says that if a child, young carer or an adult caring for a child is likely to have needs when they, or the child they care for, turns 18, the local authority must assess them if it considers there is ‘significant benefit’ to the individual in doing so. This is regardless of whether the child or individual currently receives any services.
The new statutory advocacy duty supports the principle of enabling everyone to be fully involved in the key decisions that shape their lives by providing extra help to those who need it most.
The Care Act's Advocacy regulation extends the right to advocacy support for eligible people to participate themselves in their care assessment, care or support planning meetings and reviews as well as for those people involved in safeguarding enquiries and safeguarding adult reviews.