The Care Act 2014 | Rhetoric or Reality?
As a former Occupational Therapist, now working with our Community Care Law team as a lawyer, my initial reaction on reading the aims of the Care Act 2014, was ‘hoorah!’. This is because it reflects the guiding principles of Occupational Therapy, as embodied in statue and practice. This is holistic, person centred care, where the emphasis is on the individual and their family’s needs. This is crucial in order to empower and enable carers and those being cared for.
So what happened to my initial enthusiasm? Having waded my way through the new Care Act I am concerned that the positive aims will never come to fruition. I question how this proposed level of service provision can be implemented by what are hugely cash stretched and overburdened social care teams?
A lack of resources
A hospital based social worker revealed she had only received half a day training on the Care Act. As the aim of the Care Act is to modernise our anarchic forms of law in line with 21st century thinking, I would suggest that more than three hours is required to simplify the new Care Act for professionals.
What we really need is nothing short of a revolution in terms of how service provision is being implemented. For that to happen, those who work within a new regime, which puts the needs of families and individuals first, must understand how the core principles are different from before.
The needs of carers
Given that carers deliver cost savings of £119 billion a year, this group has rightly been recognised in the Care Act. Thankfully, there is now a statutory requirement to assess and consider all adult carers’ needs, rather than just carers whose contribution was considered ‘regular and substantial’.
Unfortunately, the Care Act did not introduce new rights for young carers. Although their needs are considered in the Children & Families Act 2014, these young people can all too easily fall through the net because various departments are responsible for different types of assessments, under different pieces of legislation.
A cap on care fees
In 2016, the Act will introduce caps on care fees. But look again. The calculation provided is based on the value of the care received, but will not take into account food and accommodation. Again, the often spurious divisions of what is deemed Health or Social Care needs, and now accommodation, rears its ugly head. This will leave a lot of people feeling sorely disappointed.
Given the current economic climate, and the reality of an already overburdened work-force; it is likely that the important changes envisaged by the Act will be impossible to implement. This is a great shame and a wasted opportunity. If the current government really believes in the aims of the Care Act 2014, they need to put their money where their mouth is.