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New rights for carers from April 2015

The Care Act 2014 strengthens the rights and recognition of carers in the social care system, and will come into effect in April 2015.

This information applies to carers living in England and relates to the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014. The page will be updated with new materials and resources about the Care Act 2014 in time for Carers Rights Day on 28 November 2014. 

The Care Act covers adult carers of adults as well as young carers approaching adulthood and carers of disabled children approaching adulthood. The Children and Families Act 2014 includes assessment rights for parents of disabled children and young carers.

Both Acts include a clear right to an assessment. Following an assessment the Care Act also gives adult carers of adults a clear right to receive services where their needs meet a nationally set eligibility threshold.

There are new obligations on local authority social services relating to assessments, provision of information and advice, preventative services and duties to shape a local market that can deliver a wide range of sustainable high-quality care and support services. These responsibilities apply equally to those funding their own care as well as where the local authority is meeting the costs of care.

The Act also sets out a new model of paying for care, putting in place a cap on the care costs which an individual is liable for. This new funding model will operate from April 2016.

Carers Assessments and eligibility

The Care Act 2014 means that any carer who appears to have a need for support should be offered an assessment by the local authority.

To determine what is needed and how they can help, social services must carry out a carers assessment. Instead of having to ask for a carers’ assessment, from April 2015 any carer who appears to have a need for support should be offered one by social services.

As a carer you will be entitled to an assessment no matter what your level of need, the amount of care you provide or your financial means. You can have an assessment whether or not the person you care for has had a community care assessment/needs assessment or if they have been considered not to be eligible for support.

The assessment will look at how caring affects your life, including health issues and whether you are able or willing to carry on caring. It will also look at other important physical, mental and emotional needs you have to help you achieve things important to you such as your work, education, maintaining relationships, and social activities.

Following the assessment, social services will decide if you are eligible for services to be provided either to you as the carer or to the person you care for to reduce the impact of caring on you. The decision about whether social services pays for services to support you will depend on your financial situation (if services are provided to you) or on the financial situation of the person you care for (if services are provided to them as a result of your assessment).
At a minimum, social services must provide all carers – including those not considered eligible for support – with information and advice on local services to prevent their needs from developing further.

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Assessments for people with care needs

The Care Act 2014 places a duty on the local authority to carry out an assessment of an individual on the appearance of need.

To determine what is needed and how they can help, social services will carry out a needs assessment. This is done with the person who needs the care, and must be carried out no matter what their financial situation, or whether social services think their needs make them eligible for support.

The assessment must look at a person’s physical, mental and emotional needs and consideration must be given to the person’s choices, goals and preferences for their day-to-day care. Social services must consider the types of services, information, advice, facilities and resources which will prevent or delay further needs from developing.

Carers are entitled to be involved in the assessment and the needs of the family of the person being assessed must also be considered. When the assessment is completed social services will decide whether their needs are high enough to meet the national threshold of eligibility. Where someone has eligible needs social services will carry out a financial assessment to determine whether people need to pay for their care.

Everyone (including people whose needs are considered not to be eligible) must receive information and advice from social services about the needs that have been identified, how to access care and support, the care providers and services they can choose from in their locality, how to obtain financial advice and how to raise concerns about safeguarding.

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Paying for care

The Care Act allows social services to charge for services, including services for carers. However carers cannot be charged for services provided to the person being cared for.

The Care Act sets out that social services may charge for services, including carers’ services, although some services are usually provided free (such as reablement services to help disabled people manage tasks in their home.)

Following a financial assessment the person may be expected to meet the full costs, the local authority may meet the full costs, or the cost may be shared between the person and the local authority.

Where a person has been identified as having care needs by the local authority but the financial assessment finds that they can afford to pay, they can still ask social services to meet those needs. However, the Act allows the authority to charge for services, as well as the arrangement and management of those services.

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