Specialist law firm Hyphen Law is urging the nation’s army of carers to understand their new rights following the biggest overhaul of the social care system in nearly 70 years when the Care Act came into force earlier this month.
Billed as the most important piece of health and social care legislation in a generation, to meet the increasingly complex demands of our growing and ageing population, the Act has made sweeping changes to the social care system in England.
It will have a significant impact on individuals and the 5.4 million carers in England who regularly look after their sick, disabled, mentally impaired or older loved ones, saving the NHS some £87 billion every year.
Charlene Hughes, a solicitor at Hyphen Law, specialising in Court of Protection work including deputyships services and Personal Injury Trusts, said: “Caring for a loved one can take a huge toll both physically and emotionally, making carers feel isolated, stressed and unsupported. It’s therefore vital that carers receive the care and support that they need to help them cope with their crucial and demanding role. The Care Act is a considerable step forward, giving carers for the first time ever, the same rights to assessment and support as the people they care for.”
In order to help carers get to grips with the landmark legislation and understand their new legal rights and how it will all work in practice, she has developed some key pointers summarising the most important changes effective from 1 April 2015:
- It’s all about your wellbeing – the new Care Act introduces the ‘wellbeing principle’. Local authorities will need to ensure they are looking your wellbeing when making decisions about care and support.
- Get access to information and advice– your local authority now has a duty to provide an information and advice service to help you understand the types of care and support available, including independent financial advice, to enable you to make informed choices.
- Exercise your right to be assessed – you now have the legal right to be assessed for local authority support, regardless of your finances or whether the local authority thinks your needs are eligible.
- End of the ‘postcode lottery’ – there is a new national set of eligibility criteria for accessing council-funded services, putting an end to decision-making based on post codes.
- Prevention is better than cure – strategies are now in place aimed at trying to keep people healthy and preventing social care needs arising or becoming worse in the first place.
- Get a personalised care plan – by law, local authorities must provide a personalised care and support plan with a budget detailing the social care costs to meet your specific needs.
- To pay or not to pay? – in most cases, you will not be charged for support; however if there is a charge, the local authority must carry out a financial assessment to determine what you can afford to pay.
- Caring for disabled children – if you are a parent carer looking after your disabled child under the age of 18, you also have the right to care and support thanks to an amendment to the Children and Families Act 2014.
Charlene Hughes added: “This important piece of legislation could potentially help millions of carers get additional, much-needed help, such as respite care or direct payments, putting them for the very first time on an equal footing with those they care for. While local authorities and health and social care providers have a vital role to play in helping to identify and refer carers with support needs, the implementation of the Act will not be without its challenges as agencies develop new ways of working within the new legislative framework. By understanding some of the key changes under the new laws, carers will be much better placed to access the information and care and support they need.”
If you need more information on the Care Act and your new rights, the specialist team at Hyphen Law can help. Contact them on telephone: 0845 160 1111 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit www.gov.uk/careandsupport for further advice on the care and support changes.
The Hyphen Law team will be also be on hand at Stand D72 at Naidex on 28-30 April 2015 at the NEC Birmingham, the UK’s largest disability, rehabilitation and homecare event www.naidex.co.uk.