The first year of school. The first year of living away from home. The first year of work. The first year of any important change in life will bring with it moments of excitement as well as moments of stress at how to cope with the pace of change. 

When the Care Act was introduced in England on April 1 2015 many people in the social care sector could have been described as ‘cautiously optimistic’. Despite support for a number of policies (e.g. improved rights to assessments for carers) many were concerned that reductions to local authority funding risked compromising these objectives.

At Independent Age we knew how important it would be to assess how implementation was affecting older people and their families – to do this we focussed on three key areas:

Accessing information and advice about adult social care

We found that a majority of local authorities are failing to provide online information in all areas required of them. Despite some examples of excellent telephone advice some local authority employees are clearly unaware of changes to social care law. 

Receiving an assessment from your local authority for your care and support needs

We found that almost a quarter (23%) of local authorities are not providing accurate online information on assessments and eligibility for adult social care. We also received reports of older people and their families having to fight to receive an assessment and not getting a written record following their assessment. 

Paying for care-home placement: third party top-ups

The results of a Freedom of Information request by Independent Age revealed that 43% (53 out of 122 who responded) of local authorities are failing to do at least one of the following: (i) have a written agreement in place for all third party top-ups (ii) ensure all three parties in the arrangement (iii) carry out an annual review of the payment. 

Despite examples of local authorities performing well in each area we know that failure in any of them can have a devastating effect on the lives of older people and their families. When the rules are so clear we challenge all local authorities to meet their obligations under the Care Act and deliver the best possible service for all older people.