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The Care Act – Easements affecting Assessments, Reviews and Changes to Care & Support

What follows was compiled as I tried to respond to a recent helpline call (Essentially this involved a significant change in provision, where the parent carer of ‘P’  believed the local authority was not using an up-to-date and accurate Care and Support Plan in its decision making).

To ensure that my efforts researching Care Act plans and reviews during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and the time spent documenting that research, are not wasted, I have decided to publish here, in adapted and anonymised format, compiled extracts from recently sent emails. I hope you find this overview informative. The introductory sentence reflects the regrettable situation of many family carers still not being fully aware of the content and import of the Care Act.

The key legislation you should know about is the Care Act 2014…

 The Social Care Institute for Excellence(SCIE) sets the standards for people working in social care, so in essence specifies what social services departments should be doing, and to what standard.

  • There is actually some (much-improved) information on gov.uk.  The Care Act is actually ‘implemented’  via its Statutory  Guidance document.

This is the gov.uk introduction to the Guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance

  • Take a look at the section explaining ‘wellbeing’ – it may help to remember, and remind others, that the key consideration of his care & support planning will be P’s wellbeing.

This explains what a broad concept wellbeing is: https://www.scie.org.uk/care-act-2014/assessment-and-eligibility/eligibility/how-is-wellbeing-understood.asp

  • In very simple terms the Care Act follows this route in decision making process

o   Assess client’s needs,

o   Identify which needs are eligible for support,

o   Develop a Care and Support Plan to meet eligible needs (whilst ensuring the client’s wellbeing),

o   Implement the Care and Support Plan, and monitor (review) its implementation. (Section 13 of Care Act Guidance covers this issue in detail. Section 13.10 states: “Keeping plans under review is an essential element of the planning process. Without a system of regular reviews, plans could become quickly out of date meaning that people are not obtaining the care and support required to meet their needs.”).

There are shortcuts that can be taken in emergency; the phrase is ‘Meeting Urgent Care Needs’, but I am assuming this is not the case with P

  • In normal (non-Covid 19) circumstances, I would expect the local authority to have carried out a recent (re)assessment of P’s needs, especially if a major change in provision is being contemplated.

o   Has that assessment been carried out? Have you seen a copy?

o   Has it identified P’s eligible needs?

o   Have you discussed any assessed eligible needs with social services?

  • I really cannot expect you to read the Statutory Guidance (it’s massive!)

o   but if you just open the Guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance , scroll down to Section 6, paragraph 6.30 to 6.43, which considers the question of P’s ability to understand and contribute to the assessment process (Please note that I do not know the extent of P’s capacity).

o   If you have the time, with the Statutory Guidance document open on screen, hit CTRL+F  (‘F’ for Find) and search for ‘Family’ and ‘Consult’; selected relevant results will give you an idea of the local authority’s duties to consult family members. (You may be disappointed).

  • I would recommend trying not being too confrontational with the local authority at this stage (although I do not know at exactly which stage of care and support planning for P you have reached).

o   It might be best to challenge them on whether their assessment has correctly identified his needs, whether they have prioritised his needs correctly etc.

o   If you are discussing placements, discuss/review how each will promote P’s wellbeing.

!!! CAVEAT – WARNING!!!

The Coronavirus Emergency legislation has eased many of the obligations placed on local authorities by the Care Act!!!

Please see the links below. I also include an extract from the government’s guidance on easements (accessed link 1 below)

I really do worry that this will make it easier to ‘rush things through’.  So please see the text highlighted in bold (below) and perhaps be ready to quote it!

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-changes-to-the-care-act-2014/care-act-easements-guidance-for-local-authorities
  2. https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2020/07/08/councils-formally-suspending-care-act-duties-equate-compliance/
  3. https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2020/01/20/care-act-analysis-must-considered-setting-personal-budgets/

 “What the powers actually change

 The changes fall into 4 key categories, each applicable for the period the powers are in force:

    • Local authorities will not have to carry out detailed assessments of people’s care and support needs in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements. However, they will still be expected to respond as soon as possible (within a timeframe that would not jeopardise an individual’s human rights) to requests for care and support, consider the needs and wishes of people needing care and their family and carers, and make an assessment of what care needs to be provided. Annex B of the guidance provides more information
    • Local authorities will not have to carry out financial assessments in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements. They will, however, have powers to charge people retrospectively for the care and support they receive during this period, subject to giving reasonable information in advance about this, and a later financial assessment. This will ensure fairness between people already receiving care and support before this period, and people entering the care and support system during this period. Annex B of the guidance provides more information
    • Local authorities will not have to prepare or review care and support plans in line with the pre-amendment Care Act provisions. They will however still be expected to carry out proportionate, person-centred care planning which provides sufficient information to all concerned, particularly those providing care and support, often at short notice. Where they choose to revise plans, they must also continue to involve users and carers in any such revision. Annex B of the guidance provides more information
    • The duties on local authorities to meet eligible care and support needs, or the support needs of a carer, are replaced with a power to meet needs. Local authorities will still be expected to take all reasonable steps to continue to meet needs as now. In the event that they are unable to do so, the powers will enable them to prioritise the most pressing needs, for example enhanced support for people who are ill or self-isolating, and to temporarily delay or reduce other care provision. Annex C provides further guidance about the principles and approaches which should underpin this.”

I will stop at this point. That’s quite a lot for you to take in! Feel free to update me  – I really do wonder how local authorities are behaving at the moment (I have had only limited ‘feedback’ from Rescare members.).

 

If anyone wishes to enlighten us here at Rescare on local authority behaviour during the coronavirus crisis, please feel free to contact us by email (office@rescare.org.uk) or via the contact form on this website. I would love to know if and how local authorities are operating their complaint systems. The Ombudsman issued guidance to local authorities in May 2020 on how they should continue to consider serious complaints  https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2020/may/ombudsman-issues-guidance-to-councils-and-care-providers  , but we are in the dark as to how this has been implemented. We hope to publish more on covid-related issues, in a more structured format, here soon.   JR.

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