In my second post on the Care Act, I start with a reminder that the Government has only just finished consulting on the many pages of draft regulations and guidance and will use this feedback to finalise information to be published in October.
So I thought I’d talk about what we are contributing from a Leeds perspective.
Recently, a team which consisted of council staff, voluntary sector and Healthwatch Leeds, attended a Department of Health Yorkshire and Humberside regional event to contribute feedback. You may have also seen Dr Paul Kingston (Independent Chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Board) posted on this blog and talked about the safeguarding element of the consultation.
Well, we have not tried to ‘eat the elephant whole’ as it were and are mindful that the final guidance still needs to be provided. We must remember that the Care Act (2014) represents a generational change in the Care and Support law which dates back to the National Assistance Act (1948). For the historians out there, this Act established the welfare state and abolished the Poor Laws!
So, our approach has been to firstly identify the priorities;
- Carers, Assessment and Eligibility
- Advice and Information and
- Information and Technology.
One of the most important areas of reform in the Act, and very much welcomed, is the strengthening of carers rights to both assessment and entitlement to services. In my last post, I talked about the unifying principle of wellbeing in adult social care, this also includes carers. From 1st April 2015, for the first time carers will be legally entitled to support.
We are working closely with key partners (such as ‘Carers Leeds’) to help us deliver the ambition set out in the reforms and pinpoint what will be different.
In Leeds, 71,600 carers provide unpaid support and it is estimated that 1.5 million hours of unpaid care is provided across the city. 57.8% of unpaid carers are female and 42.2% are male which reflects the national picture. Clearly the legal entitlement to assessments and resulting services through care packages for carers is welcomed, and the reforms will have a significant impact on the city.
So, working with ‘Carers Leeds’, we will need to establish a Leeds Carers Offer which will:
- address their right to an assessment if carers appear to have need for care and support;
- re-consider how we provide advice and information in an accessible way;
- consider the needs of young carers in transition to adulthood;
- review advocacy arrangements and
- consider how we will ensure that carers are able to exercise choice and control through personal budgets.
Hopefully, this gives you a sense of scale and complexity of the reforms. And remember, all this must be in place by 1 April 2015.
I must also add that since my first update, I have presented reports to Council and the Health and Wellbeing boards and a number of common themes are emerging. The first is that there is a lot work that still needs to be done in terms of estimating the cost of reforms (set against some real concerns here in Leeds and nationally that the cost has been underestimated as well as unfunded). The second is that we need to continue to work with our health partners in our city because the Care Act is not just about adult social care services but about how we can work together to create an Integrated Leeds Offer.
Thanks for reading.
Chief Officer for Social Care Reforms.