The Care Act 2014 Update

Parliament has approved the Care Act 2014. Care minister Norman Lamb said the Act, which has received Royal Assent, ‘represents the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years’.

“The Care Bill in many respects marks a quiet revolution in our attitudes towards, and expectations of, carers. At last, carers will be given the same recognition, respect and parity of esteem with those they support. Historically, many carers have felt that their roles and their own well-being have been undervalued and under-supported. Now we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to be truly acknowledged and valued as expert partners in care”

Dame Philippa Russell, Chair of Standing Commission on Carers

Why was the law changed?

Previously, the law treated carers differently from the people they care for. It had been developed through a number of years and mixes up rights for carers of different ages. It was complicated, obtuse and made it difficult for carers to understand how to get support themselves. This is evident in the UK where over seven million people have become carers and few receive the support they are entitled to.

Responsibility, Recognition and Respect

The Bill gives local authorities a responsibility to assess a carer’s needs for support, where the carer appears to have such needs. This replaces the existing law, which says that the carer must be providing “a substantial amount of care on a regular basis” in order to qualify for an assessment. This will mean more carers are able to have an assessment, comparable to the right of the people they care for.

The local authority will assess and recognise whether the carer has needs and what those needs may be. This assessment will consider the impact of the caring on the carer. It will also consider the things that a carer wants to achieve in their own day-to-day life. It must also consider other important issues, such as whether the carer is able or willing to carry on caring, whether they work or want to work, whether they want to study or do more socially. If both the carer and the person they care for agree, a combined assessment of both their needs can be undertaken.

Cap on Funding

The Care Act 2014 does not solve the issues in social care funding, but does simplify the system. The cap on funding will help people financially, but more needs to be done to make sure eligibility criteria doesn’t prevent people accessing vital services early. The vast majority of people with diseases such as, for example, Alzheimer’s rely on support from social services to cope with everyday life and it is essential that they get effective support to help maintain both the carers and cared for’s independence and quality of life.