The Care Act – FAQ
Why change the law?
The current system of care and support often fails to live up to the expectations of those who rely on it. The system can often be confusing, disempowering and not flexible enough to fit around peoples lives. Furthermore, demographic changes mean that we can expect 1.4 million more people to need care and support in the next 20 years.
It has been almost impossible for people who need care, carers, and even those who manage the care system, to understand how the previous law affecting them worked. Over nearly 70 years it has been added to again and again and is out of date and confusing. The Care Act has created a single, modern law that makes it clear what kind of care people should expect.
More than simply modernising the legislation, the Act takes forward many reforms. In doing so, it also responds to the recommendations of the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, which was established in 2010 by the coalition “to make recommendations on how to achieve an affordable and sustainable funding system or systems for care and support, for all adults in England, both in the home and other settings.”
The Act is divided into three main parts. This means that some changes will be introduced in April 2015 and others in April 2016.
In April 2015 the following will be introduced:
More changes to the way people pay for care and support will be introduced in 2016. These will protect people with the highest needs from facing unlimited costs, and provide more financial support to people with modest means. Changes include:
The wellbeing principle underpins the Care Act and means that from April 2015 Suffolk County Council must promote your wellbeing when thinking about your care and support needs. “Wellbeing” is a broad concept, and the act describes it as relating to the following areas in particular:
Suffolk County Council should therefore always be seeking improvements in the above when carrying out a care and support function for you. It can promote wellbeing in many ways, there is no set approach.
Every case should be considered on an individual level. The local authority should however always seek through assessments to understand how decisions will impact on any of the nine areas listed above that relate to your particular circumstances.
At the moment there is no limit to what care and support can cost, and this means that people with very high care needs may have to pay expensive bills.
From April 2016 there will be a ‘cap on care costs.’ It means that no one will have to pay more than £72,000 towar
ds the costs of their eligible care and support needs in their lifetime, and many people will pay much less. This applies to people funding their own care and support, as well as those helped by the council.
You will be able to register with the council to keep track of how much your care and support costs. If you get help from the council with your care and support costs already, they will start to count how much is being spent on your care straightaway. If the amount the care element of the cost of meeting your eligible needs reaches £72,000, the council will step in and pay for the rest of your care costs.
If you pay for all of your care and support costs yourself, you can still benefit from the cap on care costs. You can contact the council to register and th
ey will assess you to decide if you have eligible needs. If you do have eligible needs, the council will decide how much they would normally contribute towards meeting those needs if they were paying for your care and support. This amount will be counted towards your cap. If the amount counted towards your cap reaches £72,000, the council will step in and pay for the rest of the care costs that go towards meeting your eligible needs.
What is not included?
If you choose to spend more on care and support than the council would normally pay, for example moving to a more expensive care home, those extra amounts you spend will not count towards your cap on care costs.
If you live in a care home, you will also have to pay something towards the costs of food, energy bills and accommodation, just as you would if you were living in your own home. These are known as ‘daily living costs’ and an amount for this will be set nationally.
From April 2015, deferred payment agreements will be available from Suffolk County Council.
A deferred payment agreement is an arrangement with the council that will enable people to use the value of their homes to help pay care home costs. If you are eligible, the council will help to pay your care home bills on your behalf. You can delay repaying the council until you choose to sell your home, or until after your death.
Deferred payment agreements will suit some people’s circumstances better than others’. Councils may charge interest on the amount owed to them, and there may be a fee for setting this arrangement up. This is to cover the costs the council incurs in setting up your deferred payment agreement, and not to make a profit.
A deferred payment agreement means that people should not have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay care home bills.
From April 2015, changes to the way care and support is provided in England mean you may be eligible for support, such as a direct payment to spend on the things that make caring easier; or practical support, like arranging for someone to step in when you need a short break. Or you may prefer to be put in touch with local support groups so you have people to talk to.
The council covering the area where the person you care for lives can help you find the right support and you can ask them for a carer’s assessment.
A carer’s assessment will look at the different ways that caring affects your life and work out how you can carry on doing the things that are important to you and your family. Your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing will be at the heart of this assessment. As a result, you may be eligible for support from the council, who will also offer you advice and guidance to help you with your caring responsibilities.
You can have a carer’s assessment even if the person you care for does not get any help from the council, and they will not need to be assessed.
For more information about support for carers please click here.
Independent Age has created the Independent Age Guide that concentrates on parts of the Care Act that will most affect people who use social care services, or who may need to use them in the future. This includes people who fund their own care. The guide includes lots of information to help you to understand how the Care Act may impact on your circumstances including information about:
There is also information about care and support on NHS Choices. You can visit the page here.