The Care Act 2014, which came into effect in 2015, represented the most significant reform of adult social care in more than 60 years, putting people and their carers in control of their care and support.
What is the Care Act 2014?
It is the law that sets out how adult social care in England should be provided. It requires local authorities to make sure that people:
- Receive services that prevent their care needs from becoming more serious
- Can get the information and advice they need to make good decisions about care and support
- Have a range of high quality, appropriate care and support services to choose from
- Have more control over how their care and support is organised and provided
The Care Act introduced:
- A consistent, national eligibility criteria that made it clearer when local authorities have to provide support to people, which aims to ensure a fairer national system which reaches those most in need. This also changed when and how people are asked to contribute towards the cost of their care and support.
- New rights to support for carers, so they have the same rights as the people for whom they care
- The legal right to a personal budget and direct payments which gives people the power to spend allocated money on tailored care and support that suits their individual needs as part of their support plan
- A change to the way in which local authorities complete assessments of people in need of care and support - people are encouraged to think about what they want to achieve in their lives to feel a greater sense of physical or emotional wellbeing
- A greater emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable people in our society from abuse and neglect
- A greater emphasis on those most in need being given access to a person who will speak up on their behalf (known as advocacy) when they are dealing with social care professionals
Key principles of the Care Act
The Care Act sets out some key principles on how health and social care professionals should work with people. For each person those principles are:
- You know best
- Your views, wishes, feelings and beliefs should always be considered
- The main aim of professionals should be on your wellbeing, on reducing your need for care and support, and on reducing the likelihood that you will need care and support in the future
- Any decisions made should take into account all relevant circumstances
- Any decisions should be made with your involvement
- Your wellbeing should be balanced with that of any involved family and friends
- Professionals should always work to protect you and other people from abuse and neglect
- Professionals should ensure that any actions taken to support protect you affect your rights and freedom as little as possible