- What is the Care Act?
- What are the key principles of the Care Act?
- When is it important?
- Who is responsible for putting it into practice?
The Care Act 2014 came into effect in 2015. It aims to put adults in control of the help they receive from local authorities and other agencies. It also ensures that:
- people are supported to keep safe, and as well as possible;
- that people get the services they need to stop their care needs from becoming more serious;
- that people can get the information, advice and guidance they need so that they can make decisions about their own care; and
- that they have a good range of services to choose from.
There are a number of key principles which include the following.
- It sets out the criteria for when local authorities have to provide care and support to people, and it aims to make sure there is a fair, national system which reaches those most in need.
- It set out how local authorities must complete assessments with adults in need of care and support. People should be encouraged to think about what outcomes they want to achieve in their lives – big or small – which will enable them to improve their physical and / or emotional wellbeing.
- It gives rights to carers which puts them on the same footing as the people they care for. All carers are be entitled to an assessment. If the local authority assesses that a carer is eligible for support for their particular needs, they have a legal right to receive support, just like the people they care for.
- There is an emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect.
- There is also an emphasis on prevention. Local authorities and other care and support providers should encourage and assist people to lead healthy lives, which should reduce the chances of them needing more care and support in the future.
- It lays down that local authorities must provide clear information and advice which helps members of the public make informed choices about their care and support arrangements and enable them to stay in control of their lives.
- Personal budgets existed before the Care Act came into force, but the legislation brought a greater emphasis on using them, as they give people the power to spend the money allocated to them on interventions that are tailored to their individual needs, as part of their care and support plan.
- There is a greater emphasis on advocacy, that means that those most in need are given access to someone who speaks up on their behalf when they are dealing with social care professionals.
- There is also a greater regulation for those who provide professional care and support, as well as tougher penalties for those who do not provide that support to a high enough standard.
The ethos and principles of the Care Act underpin all stages of contact that an adult, and their carer, may have with the local authority adult social care department including initial contact, assessment, care and support planning and review and safeguarding adults processes.