Tag Archives: choice

Five reasons why the Care Act could transform social care

Today the Care Act goes ‘live’. The Act has been described by the Care Minister Norman Lamb as “the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years”. Previously messy and sometimes outdated laws on adult social care have been brought into a single modern framework.

As the Act went through Parliament, Scope worked closely with politicians and policy makers alongside other organisations in the Care and Support Alliance. Scope’s vision is a society where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else and are able to live independently. A key question disabled people are asking is, “will the Care Act enable me to be more independent and have more choice and control over my life?”

Many of the changes have significant potential to improve support for disabled people. Here are the five that I think will have the most impact:

1. Promoting well-being

Local authorities have a new duty to promote a person’s well-being and this is described right at the start of the Act. Although it does not explicitly mention the words ‘independent living’, it identifies a number of factors that are crucial to being independent, like having control over everyday life, living in suitable accommodation and being able to contribute to society. This is known as the ‘well-being’ principle’ and importantly it applies to all decisions made about a person’s care and support.

2. Focusing on outcomes instead of needs

For the first time, the Care Act sets a new national minimum threshold for getting care and support, which all local authorities have to follow, instead of setting their own criteria. Another big change is that when making decisions about who gets care, instead of looking at what a person can’t do (their ‘needs’) assessors have to look at the outcomes a person wants to achieve in life. These outcomes include being able to develop and maintain family and other relationships, use facilities in the community and get around your home safely – something that Scope campaigned for strongly. All these are fundamental to living more independently.

3. Personal budgets

A personal budget is the amount of money a local authority allocates to an individual to meet their eligible care requirements.  Many disabled people say that, with the right support and information, having a personal budget makes a big difference to their independence, because they know how much money is available to spend on their care. In some regions and situations, it’s still difficult to get a personal budget.  From the 1 April everyone will have a legal right to a personal budget and be able to ask  to take this as a direct payment, so they are in charge of paying for and arranging their support.

4. Getting your views heard

Although it may not mean doing everything for yourself, an important part of being independent is that your views about support are listened to. For the first time, the Care Act introduces a right to have an advocate at key points such as during assessments, care planning and reviews. This means that if a person has substantial difficulty in communicating and doesn’t have an appropriate person to help, they can still get support to express their views and choices.

5. Making it easier to move

It’s important to be able to move, perhaps to get a new job or be closer to friends and family, but disabled people are understandably reluctant to do this if they are unsure about care arrangements in a new area. The Care Act strengthens requirements on local authorities to ensure that there is continuity of care when a person moves from one area to another.

The principles and intentions behind the Care Act are strong and it is a landmark piece of legislation with real potential to promote the independence and well-being of disabled people. However, as Scope and the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) have often said to the government, social care is chronically underfunded. It will be a great shame if lack of funding prevents these improvements from becoming a reality.

If your support package – sometimes called a personal or individual budget – has been cut or changed take a look at our updated guide.

What makes me frustrated? People not listening to me – #100days100stories

John lives in a shared house in Hereford, with support from Scope staff. We first shared his story in December 2014, and we’re republishing it here as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign.

The night before John and I met, he hosted his 50th birthday party in a local social club. More than 100 people came, from all parts of his life – friends, people he’d met while volunteering, support workers, even his fitness instructor.John in a coffee shop near his home

John lives in a supported living house run by Scope in Hereford, and has chosen to share with two others rather than live alone. He has cerebral palsy, uses an electric wheelchair and has learning difficulties.

Becoming more independent

I met him, along with Lottie, who manages Scope’s service in Hereford, in the café of a theatre near his home. John arrives dead on time, unsupported and under his own steam. When we’re settled, Lottie reminds him that this wasn’t always the case.

“We worked together for about two years, learning how to go independently in and out of town. We’d go into town together – I used to sit in a coffee shop in the centre of town, and you used to go off and cross the road to the newsagents and then come back when you’d bought whatever you needed to buy”.

“We did that for 12 months – you’d have different tasks to do, going into WH Smiths or the bank, and things like that.”

“[Now] I get it all by myself,” adds John.

“You do a lot of things yourself now. Whereas if you go back 10 years, you would have probably spent about an hour a day on your own, and that was only at home, never out. You’ve learnt these skills.”

John and Lottie have worked together for 20 years, and tJohn in a coffee shop near his homehey have a strong mutual understanding. Lottie encourages John in the conversation as talking is quite difficult for John, but he listens and often adds his own thoughts.

Leaving residential care

As a young man, John lived in a large care home for disabled people. It had more than 60 beds, and was out in the countryside miles from the nearest town. John had little control over his day-to-day life and most decisions were made for him, from what to eat to what time to go to bed.

“[It was] horrible. You couldn’t do nothing. There was no town to go into. You’d have to ask the staff to take us out in the van,” he says.

John lived there until his mid twenties, when he moved to a house run by Scope’s community support service. He later became a tenant in the house, which means he can change his care provider if he chooses without having to move out. He pays for his team of support workers out of his personal budget, signing the cheques himself.

“I like to choose”

He is involved in all kinds of activities – from gardening at a local college to wheelchair football, to a music club where he volunteers to collect members’ subscriptions and take the money to the bank. During our conversation, at least half a dozen people stop to say hello to him.

“[In the future I’d like to] do more, like I am now,” he says.

Towards the end of our talk, Lottie asks John what makes him frustrated. “People not listening to me,” he says. “I like to choose. My own food. Be treated normally.

“I do things by myself, but there’s someone there if I need them.”

Find out more about 100 Days, 100 Stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.