The Government has published guidance for the Care Act easements in place to help councils with the coronavirus pandemic.
The overriding purpose of these easements is to ensure the best possible provision of care to vulnerable people in these exceptional circumstances. In order to help ensure that they are applied in the best possible way, with the greatest regard towards the needs and wishes of care users and their carers, the following protections and safeguards will apply.
The easements took legal effect on 31 March 2020, but should only be exercised by Local Authorities where this is essential in order to maintain the highest possible level of services. They should comply with the pre-amendment Care Act provisions and related Care and Support Statutory Guidance for as long and as far as possible.
They are temporary. The Secretary of State will keep them under review and terminate them, on expert clinical and social care advice, as soon as possible.
- Local Authorities will not have to carry out detailed assessments of people’s care and support needs in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements. However, they will still be expected to respond as soon as possible (within a timeframe that would not jeopardise an individual’s human rights) to requests for care and support, consider the needs and wishes of people needing care and their family and carers, and make an assessment of what care needs to be provided. Annex B of the guidance provides more information
- Local Authorities will not have to carry out financial assessments in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements. They will, however, have powers to charge people retrospectively for the care and support they receive during this period, subject to giving reasonable information in advance about this, and a later financial assessment. This will ensure fairness between people already receiving care and support before this period, and people entering the care and support system during this period. Annex B of the guidance provides more information
- Local Authorities will not have to prepare or review care and support plans in line with the pre-amendment Care Act provisions. They will however still be expected to carry out proportionate, person-centred care planning which provides sufficient information to all concerned, particularly those providing care and support, often at short notice. Where they choose to revise plans, they must also continue to involve users and carers in any such revision. Annex B of the guidance provides more information
- The duties on Local Authorities to meet eligible care and support needs, or the support needs of a carer, are replaced with a power to meet needs. Local Authorities will still be expected to take all reasonable steps to continue to meet needs as now. In the event that they are unable to do so, the powers will enable them to prioritise the most pressing needs, for example enhanced support for people who are ill or self-isolating, and to temporarily delay or reduce other care provision. Annex C provides further guidance about the principles and approaches which should underpin this