With the necessary funding in place, the Care Act could truly revolutionise how people live their day-to-day lives.
At this historic moment, it’s useful to remind ourselves what the Care Act is hoping to achieve.
Local authorities will need to make sure they promote an individual’s wellbeing in all the decisions they take about someone’s care. Crucially, this includes meeting an individual’s social and housing needs, not just their personal care needs.
In addition, the Care Act will provide people with care needs, together with the relatives and loved ones who care for them, with a clear right to a needs assessment.
These assessments could have a transformative effect, offering people the chance to receive high-quality information and advice, even where an adult is deemed ineligible for local authority paid-care. From 2016, people who pay for their own care will be encouraged to approach their council to discuss their needs, and where these are deemed eligible needs, to set up a care account.
Carers should find they are being given a fairer deal. In a year’s time we hope to see many more people who provide unpaid care receiving the assessments and information and advice that will help them meet their caring responsibilities, no matter how many hours care they provide.
By April 2016, we hope to be welcoming a cap on catastrophic care costs and a more generous means test, bringing more households into the system of local authority-funded care.
Many headlines have focused on the government’s commitment that people won’t have to sell their home to pay for their care. Deferred payments will be universal (that is if you meet quite strict eligibility criteria, with less than £23,250 in non-housing assets).
Despite the fine promise of the Care Act, we are concerned with the £4.3bn funding gap ADASS predicts will open up by the end of the decade.
Looking ahead to April 2016, let’s hope we aren’t facing a terrifying situation of fewer and fewer people getting the vital care they so obviously need and deserve. Let’s remain bold, and ensure the lasting legacy of 1 April is a care system that helps more people to lead independent and fulfilling lives.