For Families and Carers : Care Act

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Care Act

Care and support in England has changed


What is the Care Act?

You may already know that April 2015 sees the implementation of one of the biggest changes to social care law in over half a century as the Care Act (2014) comes into effect.  Individuals and families are placed firmly at the centre of this ground-breaking legislation and, for the first time ever carers are on an equal footing with the people for whom they provide care.  The Act shifts the duty of local authorities from providing services to meeting needs – including clear legislation and guidance about preventing and delaying the development of needs in those who are not eligible for support, but who may benefit from the provision of information.

What are some of the key points of the Care Act I should be aware of?

Well-being:  The Act includes a set of well-being principles that should be central to assessment, services, market shaping, safeguarding and other services.   Assessment of needs should consider the impact they have on an individual’s well-being and in the context of their support network.  Assessment must have regard to the wider impact of a person’s needs, specifically impact on a carer’s well-being.  A key presumption is that the person in need of support or the carer is best placed to know their own individual goals, outcomes and well-being.

Transition to adulthood: The Care Act sits alongside the Children and Families Act 2014.  Local authorities now have a duty to carry out a Child’s Needs Assessment when requested or identified as needed for any young person who is likely to have needs for care and support when they become 18.

Continuity of Care:

  • Between adult and children’s services for individuals in need of support and carers: when someone becomes eighteen children’s services must provide services until a conclusion is reached and duties discharged (if applicable) in respect of any eligible needs someone might have.
  • Movement between local authority areas – the legislation and guidance is intended to ensure that services are provided seamlessly when people move into a new local authority area. Please note: there is wide recognition that the sections of The Act addressing ordinary residence and therefore continuity of care will need some amendment.

Eligibility:  There is a fundamental shift away from locally determined eligibility criteria to a clearer set of centrally defined minimum eligibility criteria (outcomes) for both adults with need for care and support, and people who provide care.

In summary, eligibility criteria cover needs in areas such as: essential care and support needs; safety, environment and accessing community resources; social and family relationships; accessing education, training, employment and volunteering.


  • Under the old law, a person could be assessed under the Community Care Act. An adult who may need care and support can now ask for a Needs Assessment under the Care Act (2014).
  • Needs Assessments for people who need care and support and Carers Needs Assessments will consider how individual needs for support impact on a person’s well-being.
  • Combined assessments can be requested in cases where both Care Needs and Carers Needs Assessments are needed.

Advocacy: There is a duty to appoint an advocate where someone does not have capacity to understand information and / or contribute to the assessment and care planning processes.  This duty can be fulfilled by a carer, family member or friend who is willing to act as an ‘appropriate person’ (with the consent of the person with needs for care or support).

More information

We are busy reviewing our resources in relation to social care and we will keep you updated via our website, blogs and social media. In the meantime, here are some places you can find further information.

Read the DSA’s quick summary of changes under the Care Act (2014): Care Act – Key Points

The Department of Health has factsheets for general information about eligibility and assessment.

Irwin Mitchell have template letters and legal factsheets.

The National Institute for health and care excellence (NICE) have specific information about young people in transition.

Carers UK have information about carers’ rights.

Full statutory guidance is available on the government website.

Got a question?

If you want to talk to someone about social care needs and provision, feel free to call us on 0333 1212300 and one of our information officers will be happy to discuss your query.

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