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What Is The Care Act? - Top Ten Supported Living Home Points

So here we sit providing supported living homes, trying our best to shape the highest quality housing with support that we can.  Then, along rolls the Care Act.  Some would argue that it has been 'rolling along' for a considerable time, around sixty years!  However, what is the Care Act?  And, how will it effect supported living homes?

The Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb heralded the birth of the Care Act by saying it represented 'the most significant reform of care and support in more than sixty years, putting people and their carers in control of their care and support.'

Amidst all the pomp and celebration we have had a few questions about it and its effects on housing. We are here to serve, so here's a quick overview.

  • What is the Care Act 2014?

This is a law that only applies to England; it brings together pieces of related legislation that were either out-of-date or confusing.  Councils could be seen interpreting historical laws in lots of different ways, not always in the best interest of the people that they served.  There was no consistency.  In essence the Care Act's role is to streamline, simplify and stop things varying from place to place.  A great set of ideas!  

The Care Act is in two sections.  The first part was introduced on 1st April 2015.  The second will take effect in April 2016 when the £72,000 cap on care costs will be made a duty.

  • Why was the Care Act introduced?

This legislation will help people to have more control over their own lives, care and future.  Support in the future should be less about crisis management and more about prevention and maintaining personal independence.

  • Give me a brief overview for housing with support in mind

Its main messages are only to English councils.  The Care Act makes it clear what a council is expected to do if a person asks for help and has social care needs.  Lots of different homes are considered in the law.  A person can be supported in their own home, in shared living, supported housing, extra care housing or a care home.  It even places responsibilities on a council if the person asking for help is cared for by a family member or friend.

The top ten key Care Act points for supported living homes (obviously in no particular order) are:

  1. Who qualifies for support
  3. That preventative services must be provided along with advice and information
  5. How people should be cared for
  7. A person's right to an assessment and advocacy if needed
  9. The duty to review care
  11. How councils should support someone who moves to a different place out of their borough
  13. Mandatory personal budgets in certain circumstances
  15. (In April 2016) a cap on how much people need to pay towards their own care in their lifetime
  17. A 'well-being principle' which must be at the centre of all care provided
  19. The prohibition of contracting out specific services.
  • What is the most important change?

In our opinion the 'well-being principle' is a critical part of the Care Act.  This concepts informs councils that they have a duty to ensure people’s well-being is at the centre of all care and support that it offers, including housing.  Married to this is its partner 'outcomes'.  All this means is that care has to look at goals which must keep up independence i.e., 'What is it that we want to achieve?' Reviews will clearly revolve around these two concepts to see if support is on track.  Hopefully, people should always feel that everything offered is 'person-centred' with their ability to be self-reliant at the heart.

  • Are we ready for the Care Act?

The Guardian wrote in April 2015 how 'some sectors are more ready than others.'  Whilst the Department of Heath reported that 97% of local councils said they were 'fairly or very confident of delivering the changes.'  So at the moment no-one can say with certainty.

  • How does the Care Act effect supported living homes?

For supported living homes the Care Act provides a platform that it has been long fought for, that of being on a par with care and support.  T.P Properties and research has shown how the correct accommodation can make huge positive differences to 'wellbeing.'  With the Care Act obliging councils to adopt joined up services and an integrated approach around a person, housing with support is highlighted as a key partner for the first time.  As a result the term of 'Healtholopis' has been adding to the integration dictionary as Manchester sets to become the first region to leap wholeheartedly into actually implementing these ideals of health, social care and housing partnership.  Welcomed too are the eight areas across England that have been announced as the new Integrated Personal Commissioning sites for NHS England.

Councils have a duty to consider the 'suitability of accommodation'; how does the home chosen meet the care and support needs of a person, this is an extension of the 'wellbeing principle.'  The person who needs the support should receive information and advice about housing options so that the best person centred plan can be made.

This legislation views housing related support and services as important to the delivery of holistic care.  Housing is now part of the integrated assessment process with its aim being to 'prevent, reduce or delay an adult social care need.'

In recent days there has been some talk about how the future will look once the Care Act really takes hold.  Certain trail blazer projects are leading the way.  From their tentative and embryonic feedback the future looks bright as Rose de Paeztron, practice development manager at the Social Care Institute for Excellence, reports 'the new strengths-based assessments could herald a return to empowering the individual and good old-fashioned social work. Over recent years, there’s been a tendency to go straight from assessment to eligibility, with eligibility meaning funding. But the act is about assessing people’s needs in terms of how they live their life.'  Fingers and toes are firmly crossed!

Do you need to know more about our housing options as part of the integrated approach?  Read on!

...represents the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years.