What is the Care Act?

Care Act 2014 image
The Care Act (2014) is a new piece of social care legislation that aims to reform the adult social care system in the UK.
The Care Act brings a lot of existing social care law together, but also makes some positive changes to the law. However, the key thing to remember is that the fundamentals of adult social care system remain the same. For example, local authorities still have a legal duty to meet a person’s eligible needs after they have had a social care assessment.

What has changed?

The Care Act makes a number of positive changes for people with Down’s syndrome and their families. This includes:
• stronger duties for local authorities to assess carers
• the same legal provision for carers as well as people who need support
• a duty to have regard to personal wellbeing in assessments and care planning
• a duty to provide information on accessing different types of care and support locally
• the right to an independent advocate for people who have no one to speak up for them.
For more details, read the DSA’s Care Act – summary for families. Link to PDF

When will things start changing?

The law will come into force from April 2015, with financial changes coming into force in April 2016.

What is the DSA doing about the Care Act?

The Care Act became law in May 2014. The government then released regulations and guidance on how the law will work in practice, inviting people and organisation to comment. You can read our response to the consultation in full here.
The government has now published the final Care Act guidance. Many of the changes we asked for have been made, including:
• Prompting – Because they have a learning disability, many people with Down’s syndrome struggle to remember the steps of everyday tasks such as personal care, travelling to work or college, cooking a meal, etc. without being reminded or prompted. We asked for the eligibility criteria to specifically including prompting, and the criteria have now been amended to include this.
• Assessment – People with Down’s syndrome need to be assessed in person by someone with expertise in learning disabilities. The Care Act guidance now explicitly states that people with learning disabilities should receive a face to face assessment by someone with the right training and skills.

What does this mean for people with Down’s syndrome and their families?

The Care Act seems to be generally positive for people with Down’s syndrome and their families. Changes to the law around assessment, eligibility and wellbeing are all welcome developments, and if properly assessed, the majority of people with Down’s syndrome should meet the minimum eligibility criteria.
It’s therefore vital to get the assessment right. The DSA’s Social Care series has guidance for families on assessments and how to prepare.
If you are concerned about the care and support you or someone you support is receiving, please contact our helpline.
The DSA will continue to keep a close eye on the changes to social care law and keep families informed. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us.
Email: info@downs-syndrome.org.uk | Helpline: 0333 1212 300.

Find more information

Steve Broach is a solicitor who specialises in disability law. Read his blog post on the Care Act guidance and the eligibility criteria.
The DSA is a member of the Care and Support Alliance , an umbrella campaigns group of different organisations with an interest in the Care Act.
The government has made an EasyRead Guide to the Care Act