The Care Act: how will it affect you?
If you receive care and support, need to start receiving services or may need them in the future, whether this is paid for by the local authority or you self-fund, then the Care Act is likely to affect you.
The Care Act, which came into force in April 2015, only applies to England, as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own laws regarding social care in these areas.
The Care Act instructs English councils on what their responsibilities are with regards to people who need care and support services, and this covers all the ways in which these services are received, including home care, supported living and residential care homes. Some parts of the Care Act are now in active, whereas some other changes will not take place until April 2016.
If you self-fund your care, then the local authority has a responsibility to assess your care needs and they can help to arrange the care for you, even though you are paying for it. You should get a ‘needs assessment’ from your local authority, so that they are aware of the services you require and the amount that you are paying for care. This means that you can start to contribute towards your ‘care cap’, which is the maximum amount that you should pay for your own care in your lifetime, before the local authority take over the costs. There are limitations and exclusion to this, however.
The right to have a needs assessment, which is free, is open to everyone now, so be sure to ask your council if you haven’t had one. From April 2016, you will be able to have a Care Account, which will add up how much you are spending on necessary care and you will start working towards your care cap.
If you want to get funding from your local authority, then a needs assessment is essential. This determines the level of help that you need and what services you require. Depending on the severity of your need and your ability to pay, you may be offered financial support. This is increasingly being offered by means of a personal budget. This gives you control over the services that you receive and allows you the option of hiring your own paid carer, if that is your preferred choice.
If you would like to find out more about the Care Act and how it could affect the way that you receive care and support, then there are lots of factsheets from the government to help you understand the changes.