The Care Act 2014 (updated April 2016)
The Care Act helps to improve people’s independence and wellbeing. It places a series of duties and responsibilities on local authorities about care and support for adults.
Local authorities have to consider various factors:
- what services, facilities and resources are already available in the area (for example local voluntary and community groups), and how these might help local people
- identifying people in the local area who might have care and support needs that are not being met
- identifying carers in the area who might have support needs that are not being met
A carer is someone of any age who helps another person, usually a relative or friend, in their day-to-day life. This is not someone who provides care professionally, or through a voluntary organisation.
The Care Act sets out carers’ legal rights to have an assessment of their need for support. The assessment considers the impact of caring on the carer and what a carer wants to achieve in their own day-to-day life. Another important issue to consider is whether they work or want to work, and whether they want to study or do more socially.
When the assessment is complete, the local authority must decide whether the carer’s needs are ‘eligible’ for support from the local authority. A support plan will be agreed setting out how the carer’s identified needs will be met. Examples of this may include, help with housework, buying a laptop to keep in touch with family and friends, or becoming a member of a gym so the carer can look after their own health.
In most cases local authorities do not charge for providing support to carers, in recognition of the valuable contribution that carers make to their local community.
The Care Act does not deal with assessment of people under the age of 18 who care for others. However, they can be supported under the law relating to children. The Children and Families Act (2014) gives young carers (and parent carers) similar rights to assessment as other carers have under the Care Act.
The Department of Health and Social Care produced a Carers Action 2018 -20 to build on the Care Act and Children and Families Act which you can access here.
They identified 5 key themes to focus on.
- Services and Systems that Work for Carers
- Employment and Financial Wellbeing
- Supporting Young Carers
- Recognising and Supporting Carers in the Wider Community and Society
- Building Research and Evidence to Improve Outcomes for Carers
A one year progress report was produced in 2019 which you can access here.