- Local councils are concerned that there are going to be funding issues for social care over the next few years following the government adult social care budget proposals. Councillor David Fothergill, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, has commented that funding for Councils through the new Health and Social Care Levy is likely to be insufficient by some margin. He further warns that:
Unless action is taken, people may experience reductions in quality and availability of care and support services, while at the same time paying more for them through the new health and social care levy and increased council tax.
- As of 15th March, Care home staff and professional visitors no longer have to be double jabbed against Covid-19. This decision was met with support from care providers and unions, which have have long demanded that the government drop mandatory vaccination due to its impact on a sector already suffering with mounting workforce shortages. Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, had proposed the U-turn on compulsion at the end of January, on the grounds that population immunity was much higher, and the now dominant Omicron variant was less severe than the previous Delta strain.
- The Care Quality Commission (‘CQC’) has found that some residents of Berkeley House, a residential care home in Kent for those with learning disabilities or Autism, were over-medicated and unlawfully restrained. The service has been given an inadequate CQC rating and has been closed due to serious concerns raised. A summary of the CQC inspection reads:
We have identified breaches in relation to staffing, mitigation of risks, medicine administration and management oversight at this inspection. Immediately following our inspection, we wrote to the provider to inform them of the seriousness of the concerns we had identified. The provider informed us that they were unable to make the necessary urgent improvements and that they would be closing the service. The provider stopped providing a service to people at Berkeley house from 30 October 2021. The service has now closed.
It is reported that residents were medicated with 'as required' (PRN) sedative medicines twice daily, when this medication should only be used in exceptional instances of agitation or aggressive behaviour. The watchdog also details how loose sheets of paper were stapled to people's daily records, which contained significant information.
Inspectors also found six breaches of the Health & Social Care Act, but because Berkeley House is now de-registered, no further action can be taken by the CQC.
It's prompted families to call for urgent changes to prevent the provider Achieve Together from operating a care home ever again.
- Care homes are at risk of closure as the Government has ‘seriously underestimated’ the cost of its social care reforms, county councils have warned. The introduction of Fair Cost of Care aims to make care fees fairer between private and state fee payers. However, a report for the County Council’s Network has warned an extra £854m a year was needed to make the proposals workable.
The report argued that without the extra funding there would be a ‘severe sustainability risk’ to care homes across the country. The County Council’s network has warned that Council’s will be left between a rock and a hard place – either by raising council tax to excessive levels and cutting local services or by seeing widespread care home closures in their areas…
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:
We recognise that the type of genuinely transformational change set out in our White Paper cannot be accomplished overnight so we are providing £1.36bn over the next three years to support local authorities to make significant progress towards paying providers a fair rate of care.
The government will also review its approach ahead of allocating money for 2023-24.
- A 24 year old autistic man has received a £200,000 High Court settlement after being unlawfully detained in a care home for more than seven years. The man was removed from his family home January 2010 following issues at home, and was placed by Lancashire County Council in a care home on a ‘temporary basis’.
It was found that the man was effectively imprisoned in locked accommodation, with his access to the internet, social media and contact with his family restricted. The local authority did not make an application to the Court of Protection to determine where it was in his best interests to live and what care he should receive. His solicitors found that as a result of this, he lived for many years in a placement where he was extremely unhappy.
Lancashire County Council agreed a £200,000 settlement for unlawful deprivation of liberty, plus £155,000 towards the cost of a deputy to manage the man’s funds on his behalf.
- The government has launched a consultation to update the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice to better support those with learning disabilities and autism who may require others to make decisions in their best interests.
The LPS were introduced in the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019. This will replace the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS). Like DoLS, LPS will provide a system for authorising care arrangements in England and Wales that require a person to be deprived of their liberty, in line with the UK's obligations under article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK government is now consulting on 6 sets of draft regulations which will underpin the new system.
The Mental Capacity Act was implemented alongside a Code of Practice which now requires updating for 2 key reasons:
- The existing Code guidance needs updating in light of new legislation and case law, organisational and terminological changes, and developments in ways of working and good practice
- the new LPS system means that additional guidance needs to be added to the Code
The new Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) being consulted on will:
- introduce an explicit duty to consult with the person and those interested in their welfare to find out the individual’s wishes and feelings about proposed arrangements
- allow people to have representation including independent mental capacity advocates to ensure their rights are protected and assess what safeguards are necessary when decisions are being made
- extend safeguards to 16 and 17 year olds and people in any care setting
- improve the protection of rights for people at the heart of the most complex cases through new mental capacity professional roles
- better integrate decisions on Liberty Protection Safeguards as part of health and social care assessments
- involve clinical commissioning groups and NHS trusts in the process to reduce backlogs
- reduce the number of assessments required to make decisions to help ensure more timely assessments
PLEASE NOTE: WE WILL BE DOING MORE UPDATES ON THE NEW LPS SYSTEM AS IT COMES INTO FORCE.
If you need more information with regards to any of the topics covered in this article or any issues relating to care, please contact our team by emailing DebbieA@moore-tibbits.co.uk or calling 01926 354704.
Blog by: Kirstie Lennox | Solicitor