How does the Care Act 2014 affect claimants?
The Care Act 2014 came into force in April 2015, forging a new approach to adult social care in England and Wales.
Care-related legislation had evolved piecemeal over 70 years, and prior to the changes, anyone seeking or providing care would have had to contend with over 30 Acts of Parliament, and various commission reports and reforms.
The old system was widely regarded as confusing and hard to navigate, both for care providers and for individuals who needed care and support.
The Care Act 2014 represents a new framework for the provision of adult social care. Part I of the Act consolidates the previous legislation and makes it clear what kind of care people should expect. The intention of the Act is that care-seekers and their carers will find it easier to understand and navigate the streamlined legislation.
New Rights for Care Seekers
The Care Act sets out new rights for people needing care and support. Among the key provisions are:
- A single, national eligibility threshold that makes it clear who is entitled to receive care and support
- A change to the way assessments are completed, such that care-seekers are encouraged to think about their wellness goals and assist in the development of a personalised care services plan
- Changes in the way that care recipients are asked to contribute towards the cost of their care, including a cap on the care costs that people will pay over their lifetime
- Continuity of care if a care recipient moves to a different local authority area
- Recognition of the rights of carers, whose needs should now be given as much weight as those they care for
The Act has wellbeing at its core. The intention is to generate a new ethos of personalised care across the system, in place of one-size-fits-all services and red tape, to improve services and reduce incidences of care home injury claims.
New Duties for Local Authorities
Local authorities will have a number of additional duties aimed at making the system more transparent. These include:
- A universal obligation towards all local residents, and not just those eligible for local-authority funded care
- A statutory duty to prevent, delay or reduce the need for adult social care in their area, so that people can continue to lead independent, healthy lives for as long as possible
- A shift from the duty to provide services to a duty to meet individual needs. Care seekers can expect to receive a personalised care plan instead of a pre-packaged set of care services
- An obligation to provide information and advice so that people receive the support they need to access the care services available to them
- Greater regulation for service providers, and tougher penalties for those who do not meet the new, more stringent care standards.
Significantly, partner organisations such as housing associations and health services must also comply with the provisions of the Care Act 2014. The intention is to close any gaps in service provision, such that care recipients receive joined up and consistent levels of care.
Implications for Adult Social Care Claims
Anyone who has experienced negligence or neglect in a hospital, care home or other care-related accommodation (or not received) may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. To bring a claim, it must be shown that the local authority or care services provider was negligent.
Before the Care Act 2014, proving negligence could be very challenging as there was no universal standard for the type or level of care that local authorities had to provide.
It is hoped that the new system will make it easier to spot deficiencies in care before the recipient suffers harm and a claim arises. Where local authorities and service providers do fail, it should be easier to identify whether they have fallen short of the required standard in support of a personal injury claim.