The Coronavirus Act 2020: How has it changed The Care Act 2014?
The outbreak of Covid-19 has restricted how people live their day to day lives. This includes vulnerable people living in the community who require an assessment of their care and support.
Local Authorities owe a duty to assess and identify an adult’s need for care and support and a carer’s need for support under Section 9 and 10 of The Care Act 2014.
However The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) passed on 25 March 2020 created Care Act Easements (“the Easements”) dissolving the Local Authorities duty to assess these needs to a power and subsequently giving Local Authorities a wide and concerning discretion and so it remains unclear how Local Authorities will implement the Easements to ensure that the best possible care is being provided during this exceptional period.
That being said, the Guidance that followed has appeared to mitigate these concerns.
The Easement Provisions and the Guidance
The Government provided guidance to inform professionals and Local Authorities how the Easements should be implemented and it is clear that Local Authorities cannot simply decide that it is not practicable to comply with their duties set out within the Care Act 2014.
It emphasised that Local Authorities are to continue abiding by the duties placed on them until it is no longer possible for them to do so: -
“A Local Authority should only take a decision to begin exercising the Care Act easements when the workforce is significantly depleted, or demand on social care increased, to an extent that it is no longer reasonably practicable for it to comply with its Care Act duties ... and where to continue to try to do so is likely to result in urgent or acute needs not being met, potentially risking life”.
The Process Required
There is a clear process Local Authorities must follow if it is felt that the Easements are required.
There should be a clear record of their decision with all of the evidence that was taken into account including the nature of the changes to the demand of the workforce, the steps taken to avoid the need to rely on the Easements and the expected impact of the measures taken. This decision will then be reported to the Department of Health and Social Care (the Department) and should be made available to the public.
As of the 1st May 2020, there is no record of a Local Authority yet enacting these Easements.
This means the duties placed on Local Authorities remain in place to assess and plan to meet your identified eligible needs. Until the process outlined in the Guidance has been followed and written reasons as to how and why the threshold has been met have been provided, Local Authority’s are still to comply with the Care Act 2014.
It is also worth noting that even should a Local Authority enact the Easements, they will remain duty bound to assess an individual if not doing so would breach their Human Rights.
If you require help with getting a Care Act assessment as a service user or carer, or you are concerned about a sudden change in your care package please contact our Community Care department on 02380 631 111.
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