A Guide to the Care Act 2014

What happens when my disabled child becomes an adult?  The Care Act 2014 offers carers more rights & protection both for themselves and for the disabled adult they care for... including parent carers! Find out how the Care Act can help you and your family here.

Irwin Mitchell have very kindly helped Sky Badger put these legal guides together. You can find them as well as lots of other organisations and charities specialising in legal advice at the bottom of this page.

Care Act

How can The Care Act help me?

Disabled adults and their carers may be able to access these services and support including…

  • Care assessments and care plans
  • Respite provision
  • Day centre provision
  • Activities in the community
  • Support by professional carers
  • Personal budgets and direct payments
  • Local offer
  • Carer’s rights (see links below for more details)
  • Transition provisions for teenagers in the run up to turning 18

Duties Upon Local Services

According to the Care Act, there is no fixed timescale for the assessment process, but the local authority should complete it within an appropriate and reasonable timescale. What is “appropriate and reasonable” will depend on the circumstances, such as the urgency of the need for support. In certain circumstances local authorities should consider providing interim services prior to completion of assessment.

  • Care assessment should include a ‘plan of action’ – make sure that there is a lawful care plan which shows what services are going to be provided, who is going to provide them, and when.
  • Local authority and health care bodies/other agencies (such as housing) must work together.

Local authorities must also provide information and advice to people about accessing support services, even where those needs are not going to be directly met by the local authority.

Promoting Wellbeing

The general duty of a Local authority is to promote the individual’s ‘wellbeing’; this means that when making any decisions under the Care Act the local authority should bear in mind;-

  • Physical and mental health & emotional well-being
  • Protection from abuse & neglect
  • Control by the individual over day-to-day life (including over care and support, or support, provided to the individual and the way in which it is provided);
  • Participation in work, education, training or recreation
  • Social & economic well-being
  • Domestic, family, and personal relationships;
  • Suitability of living accommodation; and
  • The individual’s contribution to society.
  • Personal dignity (including treatment of the individual with respect)
Care Act

The assessment process

Eligible needs, criteria to be assessed

You can request an assessment by telephone or in person, but it is always best to do it in writing so that you have a copy. This is the first step! It is important to work closely with the social worker, and give them as much information and other assessments/medical evidence as possible so that they can properly assess your son or daughter.

The second step is to determine what the disabled adult and carer’s needs are. This is done via the needs assessment process. One all needs have been identified, the social worker will then identify which of the needs are “eligible” needs and must be met by the local authority.

  • Under section 13 of the Care Act, local authorities will need to apply the eligibility criteria that are set out in the Regulations as a ”minimum”. The local authority only has a duty to meet needs that are “eligible” needs according to this national eligibility criteria.
  • The criteria apply across the country nationally, and so there should no longer be a postcode lottery when accessing care support.

A “needs assessment” will be carried out in a case where it appears a person “may have needs for care and support”. Where a carer may have needs for support, a carer’s assessment should also be carried out by the local authority. These assessments should be person-centred, meaning that the focus will be on what the individual wants to achieve. The assessments must consider the impact of the disabled person’s needs upon other family members – this is called the “whole family” approach. The assessments will be carried out by a social worker using an assessment tool that identifies your care needs as well as the whole family dynamics.

If the individual lacks capacity to make decisions about their care, or will have substantial difficulty in understanding the process, then the local authority must provide them with an independent advocate that can support them in the assessment process. That is, unless there is an appropriate person (like a family member) who can support them.

What does a good assessment plan look like?

There is no mandatory template for a care assessment that all Local Authorities will follow but Assessments should cover issues such as…

  • Diagnosis
  • Health and development, milestones etc
  • Communication needs
  • Equipment needs
  • Culture and identity
  • Any behavioural issues
  • Day-to-day care needs
  • Personal care needs
  • The person’s wishes and feelings in relation to their care and support
  • Need for respite

There must be a plan of action setting out how the needs will be met. The local authority should set this out in a separate document (a care and support plan).

Care Act

Direct Payments & Personal Budgets

At the end of the care and support plan you the local authority must set out your Personal budget. This is the pot of money allocated to you to meet your needs as set out in the care and support plan. This pot of money can be accessed by direct payments, which is where you receive the money yourself and pay carers directly. The other option is for the local authority to buy in services itself (called “direct commissioning”).

The local authority should set out clearly how the personal budget is calculated, so you can see why they have arrived at the figure. If you are going to manage the money yourself via direct payments, it is important that you understand your responsibilities from now on regarding managing this account and the administration duties.

(For more details on this subject please refer to personal budgets and direct payments guides)

Financial assessments

Local authorities will need to carry out a financial assessment to determine if a contribution needs to be paid towards the cost of the care. If individuals have income and savings above the upper threshold amounts, that person will be a “self-funder”, meaning they will have to pay for the care.

Looking for more legal advice?

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Transitions & preparing for adulthood

Although the Care Act 2014 applies only to disabled adults, it does contain some important provisions relating to transition, as disabled teenagers approach adulthood.

Local authorities must carry out an assessment where it appears that a disabled child may have needs for care and support upon reaching 18. This is called a “child’s needs assessment”. The assessment process will identify how the child’s needs may impact on their wellbeing, what outcomes the child wants to achieve, and what care would help to achieve those outcomes. Authorities will need to determine whether it is likely that support will be required after the child turns 18, and must then provide advice about how those needs can be met or reduced now, or prevented or delayed.

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