The Care Act 2014 – What does it mean for you?
On 14 May 2014 the Care Bill received royal assent and passed into law as the Care Act 2014. Heralded as an historic piece of legislation, the act is the first major overhaul of Care in England and Wales for 60 years. The Act makes significant changes to adult social care and will almost certainly have an impact on all operators in the sector.
When does it come into force?
The majority of the provisions of the Act are not due to come into force until April 2015. Nevertheless, a number of important provisions have already come into force, particularly those in response to the Mid Staffordshire NHS public enquiry.
- a duty of candour or the requirement that a health or adult social care provider must be open and honest with patients when things go wrong;
- introducing prescribed activities and parties upon which the Care Quality Commission "CQC" must conduct and publish performance reviews;
- provisions allowing the NHS or CQC to appoint a special administrator to a provider where there is a serious failure to provide care; and
- making it a criminal offence for health services and adult social care providers to provide false or misleading information.
On 1 October 2014 further provisions of this section (the requirement for performance reviews and the publishing of results) will come into force.
Key provisions not yet enacted
The Care Act makes significant changes to the way that care funding is assessed and distributed. The objective of these changes is to clarify eligibility for individuals seeking support from local authorities. It is anticipated that these changes will have an effect on care sector operators and the way that individuals pay for their care.
The Act introduces:
- A new cap of £72,000 on the amount an individual will have to contribute to their care costs (not to come into force until April 2016);
- 'Personal budgets' based on the assessed needs of individuals which will enable the state to make direct payments to individuals allowing them to arrange their own care and support; and
- A statutory minimum eligibility threshold for public funding for care.
Duties of local authorities
Local authorities will have some additional duties, and have some existing duties clarified. Part of the purpose of these changes is to provide a more holistic and unified approach to care, and will enable smoother transitions between hospital treatment and community social care.
- to consider the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals in need of care;
- to provide preventative services to maintain health;
- to provide information and advice to help care users understand the options available to them and the support they can receive; and
- a new duty to support the needs of carers.
These changes represent a positive step forward in the provision of care, not only benefitting those who receive care, but also carers themselves. They do however present a challenge for care providers who will have to adapt in line with the new legislation - Care Act 2014.