In the practice of Independent Support Brokerage we often have conversations with people who are accessing social care support for the first time and discover that they don’t have any awareness of their rights under the Care Act.
This can make the whole process of navigating a social care assessment very tricky. How do you know what to say if you don’t know what your rights are?
The emphasis of the Care Act is on well-being and the ‘well-being principles’. It is supposed to be a ‘whole life’ or ‘holistic’ process, but often the social care practitioner carrying out the Care Act assessment focuses solely on the narrow view of individual ‘outcomes’ rather than the overarching well-being principles; meaning that they may not focus on the correct areas of life where the person needs most support.
It can often mean that the focus is taken completely away from the factors of a person’s life which determine their well-being, and therefore resources or services provided by Adult Social Care to meet that perceived need are just not a good fit for the individual.
It’s a little bit like talking to a mechanic about the problem with your car, then at the end of the conversation finding out that the mechanic knows all about motorbikes but not much about cars at all.
So let’s look at the well-being principles first:
These are the principles (enshrined within law) which are recognised as the determinants of well-being, in relation to Social Care eligibility.
When a person requests (or is offered) a Care Act assessment, their eligibility for support is determined by the following criteria:
The ‘outcomes’ specified under the Care Act are:
Anybody can ask for a Care Act assessment, and they should not be told that they are not eligible for support under the Care Act unless an assessment has taken place. In some areas of the UK we have seen ‘screening’ assessments being used by some Local Authorities as a way of filtering people out for assessment, but this is not within the guidance (or the spirit) of the Care Act. We have also heard from people we have worked alongside, where they have had a telephone conversation with a social care practitioner (such as a social worker) without any awareness that an assessment was being carried out, and have later discovered that their assessment took place over the phone. Most people would be unaware that they can challenge this.
There is little information shared within the public domain, and in accessible language- which explains people’s rights simply and helps them to navigate the assessment and support planning process. For example- most people would be unaware of their right to lead on conducting their own assessment (should they wish to) and to gather and share the information which goes into the assessment themselves. Could this be due to suspicion from Local Authority officers that people may abuse the system or manipulate information in order to secure support? Or is it due to Social Care departments being so stretched that they are being forced to adjust their practices around assessment and support planning to ensure minimal admin burden and lower uptake of resources?
Again- many people are not aware that they have a right to request a copy of their completed Care Act assessment and to request amendments to any of the information that is inaccurate (or missing) from it. There is often a delayed response when such a request is made; or when the assessment is shared with the person it is clear that there has been poor evidence capture and complete lack of detail- often by a practitioner who has not spent any meaningful time with the person they are assessing in order to understand their individual circumstances thoroughly. Could this be due to overstretched caseload and lack of capacity with social workers? Is this impacted by the person being uncomfortable disclosing personal information and details about their individual circumstances to a complete stranger? Could this be due to poor assessment skills, or a deliberate way of managing a very stretched resource?
Finally- at the conclusion of the assessment process, if the person has met the eligibility criteria there should be a clear discussion about the ways the person is entitled to receive support via a Personal Budget. Often, the person is only made aware of the option of a commissioned provider service (such as domiciliary or residential care) or a Direct Payment. Often people are talked out of the Direct Payment option by being told it will be stressful and burdensome to manage. Practitioners carrying out the assessment may not have the full complement of knowledge, insight & skill to help the person navigate their entitlement to support in the way which makes most sense for them individually.
In our next few blog posts, we will be expanding on this area of thinking further. If reading this blog post has made you question your own level of knowledge and understanding in relation to the Care Act and people’s rights, you may be interested in joining our Quick Bite for Lunch webinar series on ‘Rights’ which is starting on Weds 20th January 2021 at 12.30pm.
We’ll be exploring the whole area of ‘rights’ in relation to Social Care and Health assessment- sharing our professional experience of supporting many people through the Care Act assessment and Support Planning process in different Local Authority areas across England over the past 10 years.
There will be an opportunity for participants to share their personal experiences and ask questions too.
Visit our ‘webinars’ page for more information or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org to request a booking form.
Liz Leach Murphy is the Founder of Imagineer Development UK CIC, Chair of the National Brokerage Network and a Freelance Consultant working on personalisation within the Health and Social Care sector/community space.
Sarah Holmes is a Freelance Consultant working on personalisation within the Health and Social Care sector/community space; and a Director of Imagineer Development UK CIC
Both Liz and Sarah are practitioners, trainers and coaches in Independent Support Brokerage and consultancy for Strengths-Based Approaches with collectively over 40 years of experience in the Health and Social care and community sectors.
Imagineer Development UK CIC is a social enterprise based in the North of England with a national reach; originally set up as a test bed for Independent Support Brokerage in the UK. Imagineer is the hosting organisation for the National Brokerage Network, which is a community of practice for Independent Support Brokers. Imagineer provides a range of training & consultancy services in Support Brokerage, Person-Centred and Strengths-Based Approaches.
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