Care home briefing 142 – The Care Act 2014 in a nutshell

The Care Act 2014 is an historic piece of legislation, not only because it includes the first overhaul of social care statute in England for more than 60 years, but also because of the collaborative nature of its passage through Parliament. Much has already been written on this but this briefing provides a handy guide to the key provisions and where these may be accessed.

What does the Act contain?

The Act contains provisions relating to adult care and support and health and consists of five Parts and eight Schedules.

  • Part 1 – Care and support
    • Sets out the legal framework for the provision of adult social care in England.
    • Establishes the ‘well-being principle’ – an overarching approach that local authorities should take when exercising their responsibilities under the Act.

NB Well-being covers a range of outcomes such as physical, mental and emotional well-being.

  • Part 2 – Care standards (deals with Regulated Activities)
    • Deals with aspects of the Government’s response to findings of the Report of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry (led by Robert Francis QC).
    • Deals with the regulations that must include duty of candour on providers of health care and adult social care services registered with the CQC.
  • Part 3 – Health

Divided into 4 chapters:

  • 1 – Health Education England (HEE)
  • 2 – Health Research Authority
  • 3 – Supplementary
  • 4 – Trust Special Administration (Powers of Administrator)
  • Part 4 – Health and social care
    • Establishes a fund for the integration of care and support with health services.
  • Part 5 – General
    • Deals with various technical matters such as a power to make consequential amendments, orders and regulations, commencement, extent and the short title of the Act.

What are the key provisions regarding regulation of care providers?

The Act introduces a number of new provisions regarding the regulation of care providers, including:

  • The legal basis for the duty of candour
  • Applying to all health and social care providers regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • A new criminal offence for some care providers of giving false or misleading information
  • Changes to the CQC regulatory regime, including new powers to monitor the financial sustainability of providers
  • Provision for the Human Rights Act to apply to some private sector care providers

It includes provisions, which will greatly increase transparency about costs of care and impact on the current market balance between self-funded care and local authority funded care.

Are there any changes to duties on local authorities under the Act?

The Act provides a new framework of duties on local authorities in relation to the provision of social care, covering assessment of care needs, duties to arrange care, funding and the Dilnot care cap.

This includes new requirements to assess and meet the needs of carers and a new provision for a single national test of eligibility for local authority involvement in arranging and funding care. A requirement to arrange for the provision of preventative services, i.e. services that will reduce, prevent or delay the development of need for care and support.

A number of general duties, which apply when local authorities are fulfilling their social care functions and include promoting the wellbeing of individuals and the integration between health and social care services. There will also be new duties on local authorities with regard to safeguarding of adults receiving social care.

New powers for local authorities include the ability to delegate many of their social care functions.

Is there any guidance about compliance of the regulations?

The CQC is required to produce guidance about compliance, which translates the regulations into expected ‘outcomes’. These describe quality and safety from the perspective of people who use services and place them at the centre of the registration system.

It is important that anyone registered to provide or manage a regulated activity is aware of the guidance produced. When considering whether a registered person has complied with their duties under regulations, the regulations themselves provide that they must have regard to this guidance.

In sum, the Care Act introduces new responsibilities for local authorities. It also has major implications for adult care and support providers, people who use services, carers and advocates.

More information can be found on the websites below:

Melissa Maharaj
E. melissa.maharaj@rlb-law.com
T. 020 7227 6720


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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