Just in the way of a small reminder, you may recall that the Care Act (2014) reforms are being implemented in two phases. Phase 1 of the care and support reforms will come into effect on 1st April 2015. By way of a reminder, these consist of a new national minimum eligibility threshold, enhanced carers’ rights and entitlements, advocacy and support, enhances safeguarding arrangements, and advice and information responsibilities.
Phase 2 is related to financial reforms which will come into effect on the 1st April 2016. The current consultation relates to a cap on care costs, care accounts, an appeals process, and also a more generous means testing. The consultation closes on 30th March 2015 and details can be found on the following website – careact2016.dh.gov.uk.
Asides from the not so minor matter of a general election scheduled for 7th May (!), I think it’s fair to say that as we approach the start of Phase 1; it’s a busy time for all in Local Government and no less so than for the Care Act staff in Adult Social Care. In Leeds, a dedicated team has been busy preparing Leeds City Council and its partners for the implementation of the new statutory Care Act requirements. I’m pleased and relieved to say we’re on track but there’s a reason for that…
At this point, the late, great Leonard Bernstein comes to mind. You may know that he composed the music for one of my favourite musicals of all time, West Side Story. He was also an advocate of great social change. He said “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”
When we embarked on the stages of trying to understand what the Care Act meant for Leeds, few of us thought there would be enough time to do all that needed to be done. It seemed like a mammoth undertaking; complicated; vast; overwhelming. It was incomprehensible that we would ever get to the finish line on time. But, when we initially buried our heads in the devilish detail of the Care Act guidance, assessing what was different in the guidelines to what we were already doing, it became abundantly clear that Leeds was compliant with many of the statutory requirements. We could, in effect, tick the majority of the ‘must do’ boxes and that’s perhaps why, with only 45 days left before April the 1st, although there is still work to be done, it feels as if we’re ahead of the game.
We will be Care Act compliant, but we have done much more than that in Leeds. We have looked to improve our practice with a sharp eye on the budget as you would expect in these financially challenging times. We have also done what we’ve always done – followed a set of principles that has shaped where we are today and perhaps why we are, in so many ways, a long way towards getting where we need to be for April 1st. These principles are:
- wherever our local people approach us, staff provide good information and advice to promote their wellbeing and they know where to go for help;
- our local people will have enough information to decide for themselves about how best to meet their own needs;
- decisions about people’s legal entitlement to services are made as quickly as possible;
- our staff will be trained to ensure that they are equipped to do their jobs confidently and safely;
- will continue to support people to live for as long as possible in their own homes through prevention, wellbeing and self-management;
- the customer wishes views, wishes, and desired outcomes are always considered;
- we will continue to use technology to help us manage the increasing and changing demands facing adult social services.
- that a value for money and (wherever possible a cost–neutral approach) is being adopted through simplifying systems and processes and having the right staff skills mix
And finally, for those of us who have been embroiled in the detail of the Care Act and supporting regulations and guidance, it is time to pause and reflect on the heart of the act and that for me are the ‘I’ statements which were set out in the original white paper ‘Caring for our future’ back in July 2012. This was the precursor to the act.
We would want our friends and loved ones to say the following about their experience of Adult Social Care services:
- I am supported to maintain my independence for as long as possible.
- I am happy with the quality of my care and support.
- I understand how care and support works, and what my entitlements and responsibilities are.
- I know that the person giving me care and support will treat me with dignity and respect.
- I am in control of my care and support.
- I have greater certainty and peace of mind knowing about how much I will have to pay for my care and support needs.
I hope the above statements are true now for anyone who receives care and support in our city and for many, many years to come.
Thanks for reading.
Chief Officer for Social Care Reforms.