The Care Act 2014 has replaced nearly all the old legislation and supporting guidance covering the care needs and rights to support for both adults with social care needs and informal adult or family carers. It introduced changes in England that will be important for people with frailty and their carers. Most of the changes came into force from April 2015; however some changes, including the care cap, have been postponed by the government until 2020.
The key changes which have been in force since April 2015 are:
- Legal duties to promote individual wellbeing, prevent needs for care, and support and provide information and advice: Adult social care must always put the wellbeing of individuals at the heart of any decision making. There are also new duties for adult social care to provide information and advice; especially how to help prevent, delay or reduce the need for care and support to keep people as healthy and independent as possible. This effectively makes supported self-care a legal duty.
- Assessment and eligibility: Councils must now adhere to a national minimum eligibility threshold for services that is equivalent to the ‘substantial’ threshold of the previous eligibility bands prior to April 2015. Councils no longer have the discretion to set their own thresholds for eligibility.
- Family carers: Anybody who feels they could benefit from carer support is now entitled to a free carer’s assessment. Prior to April 2015, only those providing regular and substantial care were entitled to such an assessment.
- Deferred Payment Agreements (DPAs): Anyone who meets the nationally set criteria that measures the level of need and their assets is now entitled to defer payment. This means that the council will pay an individual’s residential care costs and secure the loan against the individual’s property, until he or she passes away or the property is sold. At this point the loan will be repaid to the council. The national criteria are:
- They have needs that require residential care;
- They are financially assessed to have less than £23,250 in savings, other than the value of their property;
- The value of the home would otherwise be included in the means test (i.e. there is no one, such as a partner or child, living there, in which case it would be disregarded).
Councils can now charge the individual interest on such deferred payment loans, as well as administration fees. Prior to April 2015, councils could not make such charges, but could decide whether or not to offer DPAs and could set their own access criteria.
The Care Act 2014
Age UK Guide to the Care Act
Which? Guide to the Care Act