The Seminar provided an excellent opportunity for workers in the Voluntary Sector to get together and discuss the problems they often encounter when supporting people who face a move into care.
Debbie Anderson , Head of the Mental Capacity and Community Care Department explained that the idea to run the seminar came about following repeated calls from charities and support groups all of whom appeared to be encountering the same problems particularly in relation to social care assessments, care fees and who should be paying them. “ Alarmingly, it was becoming more and more apparent that what the law said should be happening was not in fact happening in practice and many families were not being assessed properly or were wrongly charged for care fees. We anticipated the new Care Act would likely complicate matters further and therefore thought a Seminar would be an ideal opportunity to bring together the people who are supporting families on a day to day basis and provide training on what the law actually says and how it can be implemented” .
Representatives from many local support groups and charities including Age UK, Guideposts Alzheimer’s Society and CAB were given an overview of the Care Act and how they can use it to their advantage.
During the 3 hour seminar Debbie Anderson together with Louise Courtney and Marie O’Malley gave an in depth analysis of the legal perspectives of the care pathway and highlighted the changes which were introduced on 1st April 2015.
The Care Act introduces new rights for both service users and carers. The Local Authority will have new obligations to make sure that people who live in their area receive services that prevent their care needs from becoming more serious. At the moment however, families often feel that support is not made available to them and that Social Services will only help at times of crisis.
Also for the first time, a spotlight is shone on carers who will at last be recognised in law in the same way as those they care for. Up until now that has not been the position and carers have had no legal right to support and have been dependent on the discretion of the Local Authority as to whether any assistances can be provided for them. The new law therefore should have a significant impact on families who up until now have felt they have been battling the care system.
However, notwithstanding the good intentions of the Care Act, it is worrying that spending on Social Care has been cut by £770 million since 2010 and unlike the budget for the NHS, there is no intention to ring fence Social Care funding. It is therefore likely, even when the Care Act comes into force in April 2015, more and more people in need may not in fact secure access to services and are likely to feel they have nowhere to turn. The role of information officers, advocates and support workers will therefore be crucial in ensuring families do receive the right level of support and services that the Care Act says they are entitled to.
QS Moore and Tibbits has a specialist department that provides expert advice in relation to care fees and who is obliged to pay them. Debbie Anderson says “For many years we have worked closely with local charities providing free legal clinics throughout the County advising particularly in relation to care fees and the long term consequences of a person moving into care. We were delighted with how well attended the Seminar was - it highlights how many support groups are out there providing support to people and we are very pleased to be able be part of that support network.” The firm will run further Seminars later in the year particularly when further information is known about the Care Cap and how that will work in practice.
If you have any queries regarding the Care Act, please contact Debbie or the team on 01926 491181.