Age UK Briefing: Implementing the Care Act (2014)
Age UK Briefing: Implementing the Care Act (2014)
The Care Act (2014) represents the most significant reform of care and support in over 60 years. Getting it right could mean putting more people and their carers in better control of their care and support. Our ageing population is something to celebrate and older people can be great assets in their local communities, so long as their basic needs are met. A whole council approach to health and wellbeing into later life can reduce, prevent and delay care needs, ensuring Northumberland is able to ensure good quality care for those who need it.
Age UK has been presenting the case for reform from the perspective of older people and ageing society. Funding, assessment and eligibility criteria and care and support plans remain a priority for ongoing influence and will have implications for local Age UKs, for older people themselves and for service delivery.
This Briefing outlines some of the areas where you could usefully engage with your local Age UK and older people to support the implementation of the Care Act in Northumberland.
Information and Advice (I&A)
Section 4 of the Care Act 2014, together with chapter 3 of the guidance, sets out the importance of information and advice at all stages of the care and support ‘journey’, including for people who do not yet need such help but are thinking ahead. The role of information and advice is further emphasised by Sections 8,9,10 and 13 – particularly in terms of information and advice being regarded as a service in its own right that can be provided and commissioned for individuals with eligible needs, and the requirement that it is provided for those who are not assessed as meeting the minimum threshold for eligibility but nonetheless have care and support needs.
Age UK Northumberland has a long established and highly regarded information and advice service, providing expertise in care and support services, health, housing and housing-related support, benefits (including checks and applications), leisure, transport, tax, advocacy, and much more.
Voluntary sector organisations such as Age UK Northumberland are a vital partner in achieving the Act’s requirement that local authorities take an active role in making sure people obtain information and advice when they need it. We can help support this - and the duty to provide a universal information and advice service - through delivering our information and advice service to those older adults and carers who:
• Are yet to develop needs (guidance 3.3)
• Have information and advice needs identified in their individual care plan (3.4)
• Would benefit from Age UK Northumberland providing information and advice, as a body independent of Northumberland (guidance 3.14, 3.22)
• Would benefit from a range of information and advice beyond care and support, health, housing and benefits, to include information on a wide range of local community and voluntary services and opportunities (guidance 3.24)
• By getting in touch with Age UK Northumberland independently (rather than being directed to do so by a statutory agency), initiate ‘trigger point’ contact and so would benefit from targeted information and advice (guidance 3.26, 3.63)
• Would benefit from information and advice being delivered in a variety of ways, including telephone and internet, face to face contact, outreach, and in community meetings (guidance 3.29)
• Are in need of money management advice (guidance 3.45).
Age UK is in a particularly strong position, due to our extensive local contacts, to take active steps to ensure that older people are able to obtain the information they require, when they need it.
Through our information and advice service, and our long standing expertise in this respect, Age UK Northumberland can also offer support for the requirements to involve older adults and carers in developing local I&A provision (guidance 3.59); reviewing and developing the local I&A plan or strategy (guidance 3.55 – 3.69); and in joining up existing information and advice provision locally (guidance 3.48).
We already provide vital information and advice to local residents on all aspects of the current systems of care and support and other related services, including Continuing Health Care and housing, and provide unregulated financial information and advice including explaining personal budgets, direct payment, the details of how the charging system affects individuals, and about other means test systems such as Disabled Facilities Grants. We look forward to being able further to develop this role and would also welcome the opportunity to be involved in broader awareness-raising of how care and support will be accessed, funded and provided throughout Northumberland from April 2015 (guidance 3.39).
Under section 5 of the Care Act, local authorities are expected to involve the voluntary sector in planning how they will meet market shaping duties, to ensure a variety of providers and of high quality services. In particular, commissioners should take into account the social added value that services can contribute, for example by supporting carers, or by providing a focus for the development of community networks, and recognise the added value that local or user led organisation’s can bring to services as a result of strong links to existing community networks.
Purchasing decisions made by individuals using personal budgets – and those who pay privately - will also help shape markets. This emphasises the importance of information and advice about services and other options so that people can exercise choice and control over their support arrangements.
Age UK Northumberland has a strong track record of developing new services and resources, including those that contribute towards preventing or delaying the development of care and support needs (Section 5 (8)). These developments are frequently guided by what older people and carers needing or likely to need care and support tell us they feel would be most helpful, whether this is then funded via the state or privately (guidance 4.63).
However, there are gaps in services, facilities and resources about which we are aware as a result of our wider involvement and engagement with the local older community. As a result of our service developments and our knowledge of the gaps, we have a good understanding of the current and future needs for care and support amongst older people and carers. These trends are important to share, in the context of the Market Position Statement, as well as the duties under the Care Act (guidance 4.68), and we welcome ongoing opportunities to do so.
Age UK Northumberland also understands some of the geographical challenges facing the care and support market for older people and carers in particular areas (guidance 4.79); and is experienced in engaging with wider citizens and communities including those less frequently heard or at risk of exclusion, such as older LGBT communities (guidance 4.62).
We are particularly keen to work with Northumberland to consider further developments in support of likely trends in the local market, both for care and support and more broadly: in particular, we are interested to engage in discussions on any plans to incentivise the voluntary sector to engage in market shaping (guidance 4.9).
Advocacy, Prevention and Other Services
Age UK Northumberland provides a range of services and resources that support well-being (Section 1) and promote prevention (Section 2) such as:
• Falls prevention
• Exercise and fitness
• Befriending (one to one), and group activities – including for people with dementia
• Resources to alleviate loneliness and isolation.
• Information & Advice
As outlined above, we would be interested in further developing our Information & Advice service offer to include the provision of information and advice to individuals for whom this has been specified in the person’s care plan. With all our services, we are keen to ensure they are sustainable and to support Northumberland in this essential aspect of market shaping.
We are also keen to ensure our Advocacy service expands in line with opportunities to offer independent advocacy (Sections 67-68); and, alongside this, have an interest in working with older people who may not qualify for either an independent advocate or an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) but who would nonetheless benefit from some informal involvement support (guidance 3.31), particularly for those for whom there would also be no alternative appropriate person.
We are conscious that for carers locally, whether ordinarily resident in Northumberland or who live elsewhere but care for an older adult who is resident here, the provision of support for their own lives – such as domestic help in their own homes (whether or not this is shared with the cared-for adult) – is of tremendous value, and we would be interested in opportunities to develop our services to offer such support.
Age UK Northumberland also offers and would like further to develop a range of volunteering, peer to peer support, support groups, community clubs, and broader counselling/emotional support. These are also areas with a strong associated social capital value. Age UK, involves older people in all aspects of its work. We can involve older people in co-producing services, and in developing strong community networks and relationships that complement services and, as is often the case with Age UK day centres for example, develop out of service provision. Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of implementation of the Care Act is the potential to take an integrated approach to service provision and building the capacity of individuals and communities. Examples of new forms of support that we are interested in developing could include supporting people to pool personal budgets to collectively purchase services, or micro-services based around very local communities of older people.
Our services are outcomes-based, emphasising prevention, enablement, ways of reducing loneliness and social isolation, and promoting independence (guidance 4.16) amongst older adults and their carers. We will be delighted to further develop this role and welcome opportunities to do so in support of the local implementation of the Care Act 2014.
Age UK Northumberland
The Round House
: +44 (0) 1670 784 800 (main switchboard)
: +44 (0) 1670 784 802
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