The biggest change in adult social care for 60 years came into force today, 1 April, bringing big changes to the way people can plan and pay for their care and support.
The Care Act will mean clearer financial arrangements, better information and advice, improved support for carers and greater choice of services. A key new responsibility is to focus on individuals’ health and wellbeing and to provide better advice and information.
And crucially, the Act will also give people more control of the decisions about their care.
Dorset County Council is responsible for making the law a reality for thousands of older people, people with physical or mental disabilities, and their carers.
The Act aims to help people stay healthy and live in their own homes for as long as possible. It includes changes to assessment, eligibility, care planning, support for carers, safeguarding and prevention.
Catherine Driscoll, the council’s director for adult and community services, said: “We welcome this major reform, and are ready for the changes the Act will bring.
“The new legislation will benefit residents who require care and support, and also their carers, who will have more rights and better access to help and support.
“People who receive care and support will be more in control of decisions that affect them.
“They will also know how much it will cost to meet needs and how much the council will contribute towards the cost. There will be more control over how that money is spent.
“It will be easier for people to plan how they pay for their care and support during their retirement.”
Some of the major changes include:
- Simple, easy to find advice and information to help people stay as independent as possible.
- deferred payments – people may be eligible to enter into an arrangement with the council to defer payment for permanent residential care until they sell their home or upon their death. This means people should no longer have to sell their homes during their lifetime to pay for this care.
- support for carers – for the first time, carers will now have a right to support in their own right. They may be eligible for a personal budget to pay for things which help them to care, such as a short break or support groups.
- national minimum eligibility criteria – the Government has set a national minimum eligibility criteria for care and support which means people will get the same access to support wherever they live.