Guest blog post by Elizabeth McPherson, Chief Officer, Scarborough and Ryedale Carers Resource.
I have been working with Scarborough and Ryedale Carers Resource for the last 13 years now, firstly on the front line giving direct support to adult carers, and now – in my role as Chief Officer – focusing on the strategic direction of the charity.
I see the effects of government policy changes on carers on a daily basis. Most recently, the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act have both had a big impact on carers, and on how we – as a voluntary sector organisation – deliver services and organise support for carers.
- Read the 2014 Care Act in full here
- More on the implications of the Care Act 2014 and role of local authorities here
The Guardian described the Care Act 2014 as “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.” But is this major piece of legislation a positive move for the provision of care, and what impact does it have on carers?
What are the aims of the new 2014 Care Act?
The aim of the Care Act 2014, along with the Children and Families Act, is for local authorities to take a whole family approach in assessing and supporting adults and young carers in a coordinated way. Of course, this sounds like great news and the obvious way forward, which should benefit all carers whatever their ages are.
What are the issues with the Care Act 2014?
While the broad objectives of the new Care Act are to be commended, there are a few areas that concern me.
- Lack of provision for parent carers – We know there are big gaps in provision for supporting parent carers. They seem to fall between the gaps of adult and children services. Why shouldn’t a parent carer be allowed a Carers Assessment from adult services? Hopefully changes are underway to enable all carers the option of accessing a full assessment, both for young carers and adult carers, as part of the Local Authorities duty of care.
- Demand for carers assessments – There is a lot of information around the new Care Act itself, but we don’t know how the demand for a carer assessments will increase from April this year. Previously, councils were only required to give an assessment if the carer was providing, or be intending to provide, a substantial amount of care on a regular basis. The new bill gives all carers a right to assessment, so there is potential for a huge increase in demand for carers assessments.
The government’s own impact assessment estimated an increase of 230,000 to 250,000 new assessments a year, with additional demand coming from both carers and self-funders. Scarborough and Ryedale Carers Resource delivers care assessments on behalf of our local authority. As a small charity, we have concerns about our capacity to deliver more carer assessments than we do currently – and we’re not alone in this.
It will be interesting to see if carers take the opportunity to ask for one in their own right and I really hope they do.
- The 2016 payment cap – In 2016 the second stage of the Care Act comes into play, which focuses on paying for care. A £72,000 cap will be brought in from April 2016 onwards. Adult care blogger Mithran Samuel highlights government figures predicting between 180,000 and 230,000 more assessments in 2016-17, as well as an extra 440,000 to 530,000 reviews of existing care users.
I personally think this next stage will be the biggest anxiety facing carers for a long time. We are already getting phone calls from carers asking if they will lose their homes and how much do they have to pay if the person they are caring for has to go into care. And as yet, we don’t know the answers to these questions.
As with all policy changes that affect voluntary sector organisations and the people and communities they support, we would like to see government engagement with the sector prior to their implementation. This will enable us to inform policymakers on the best approach, and to plan our services accordingly.
The work that Involve Yorkshire & Humber has been doing as part of Regional Voices (to support NHS England in engaging with the voluntary sector, highlight voluntary sector knowledge and data on health and social care, and inform the commissioning process) has been valuable and we hope to see it continue.
In the meantime, Scarborough & Ryedale Carers Resource will continue to support to carers and their families to navigate policy changes and ensure that everybody receives the best care and support possible.
- Are other organisations seeing impacts of the Care Act 2014?
- What impacts have you seen?
- Are you concerned about the upcoming changes due in 2016?
Elizabeth MacPherson is Chief Officer at Scarborough & Ryedale Carers Resource. Scarborough & Ryedale Carers Resource is a small charity that provides support for young carers and adult carers, including a carers helpline and one-to-one support for carers.