The Care Act 2014 is the most significant piece of legislation since the establishment of the welfare state.
There is a shift from a duty to provide services to meeting needs and the local council’s duty to promote people’s wellbeing will now apply not just to users of services but also to carers. Because everyone has different needs they will not be able to provide a one size fits all but will have to consider the individual who is being assessed.
A key part of the Act is focussed on preventing or delaying the need for support. So preventative services should be established and anything that is available within the existing community will be considered.
People receiving care and support from a regulated provider, arranged by their council, whether in a residential setting or at home, will now be covered by the Human Rights Act. However, this provision will not apply to people funding their own care.
Councils must now enable people to access Independent Financial Advice to help steer them through the complexities of care funding. This access will have to be appropriate for individuals requirements and abilities, so only offering online support will not be sufficient. There will be a system by which people may appeal against a council’s decision on eligibility and funding for care and support.
Provision written into the bill will stop the closure of well-run hospitals because of problems in the NHS in the wider local area.
All excellent and sensible stuff but what about the costs?
The good news:
Currently only people with less than £23,250 in assets and low incomes receive help from the State with their care and support costs. Under the new act, from April 2017, this limit is increased to those with less than £123,000 worth of assets (savings or property).
The not so good news:
The new capped system will put a maximum spend limit on total care costs of £72,000, so a measure of protection that wasn’t there before. On the face of it this looks good but delve a little deeper and you will see that this is only a cap on the cost of care, it does not include livings costs (board and lodgings in care homes, or any top-ups or extras) and those who pay for care for needs not considered ‘eligible’ under the Care Act will have no cap on their care costs.
The picture is not as rosy as it would first seem. One thing is certain, the rules on care will continue to be complicated; those facing this issue for the first time will need as much help and guidance as possible when making decisions and working their way through the system.