The Care Act 2014 explained
By Jane Stanfield, Associate Practitioner
This article describes rights under the Care Act 2014, which relates to England only. Provisions under national legislation for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland give similar rights.
There are slight differences in process between the four countries as follows:
|What to ask for||Who to ask|
|England||Carer’s Assessment||Local Council Adult Social Care Department|
|Wales||Carer’s Needs Assessment||Local Council Social Services Department|
|Scotland||Adult Carer Support Plan||Local Council Social Work Department|
|Northern Ireland||Carer’s Assessment||Local Health and Social Care Trust Social Services Team|
Carers’ rights under the Care Act 2014
The Care Act is great news for carers as it gives equal importance to the wellbeing of the carer as to that of the person with care needs. It places a duty on local authorities to promote and maintain wellbeing, both of people with care needs and of carers. Wellbeing includes physical and mental health, emotional wellbeing, personal dignity and control over day-to-day life. The Care Act also gives carers, for the first time, the right to have their assessed eligible needs met.
Carers’ Assessments give an opportunity for you, the carer, to step back from your caring role, to recognise and value what you do, to see how it is affecting you and discover what help might be available. Some carers find that simply to have a think and perhaps a conversation about their caring situation is helpful. A Carers’ Assessment is a chance to say what you are, and are not, willing to do. It is a chance to set limits if you want to.
Carers’ Assessments do not assess “how good a carer you are” but look at how caring affects your physical and mental health, and if there is a significant impact on your wellbeing in areas such as being able to work, maintain personal relationships, care for other family members and take part in leisure activities, volunteering and training.
You do not need to live with the person you care for in order to have an assessment, and the person you care for does not need to have their own assessment in order for you to get a Carers’ Assessment.
Carers have a right to an assessment of their need for support:
- on an appearance of need and
- which is appropriate and proportionate
Many Local Authorities contract with outside organisations to provide Carers Assessments’ on their behalf. Assessments can be carried out through online questionnaires, phone conversations or face to face interviews, but they must be adequate to identify the individual needs of the carer.
If the assessment shows that the carer has eligible needs then a support plan must be drawn up to identify how those needs will be met.
The eligibility rules under the Care Act are quite complex. We cover them in more detail in our online and face to face courses, but briefly here are the three criteria for eligible needs:
- you are giving necessary care. If you were not caring for the person, would they be able to manage without you?;
- The caring has or is likely to have a detrimental effect on your physical or mental health and/or it is preventing you from achieving some outcomes such as being able to work, being able to maintain and form personal relationships, being able to care for others in your family who need you;
- As a consequence, there is a significant impact on your wellbeing;
Where eligible needs are identified a support planner will work with you to identify what resources are already available to you, what additional help can be accessed from community services and what, if any, local authority funded services are needed. Funded services might include a carers’ “sitting service”, carers’ counselling or a piece of equipment or small payment for an activity.
Local authorities have the power to charge carers for any services they provide for their support ,but currently most of them choose not to charge, recognising the large contribution carers are already making.
If part of the support consists of replacement care which is more than a short sitting service, then that is deemed to be a service to the person needing the care and the normal charging rules apply to them.
Support plans should be reviewed annually.