The parliamentary ‘ping-pong’ is over, amendments agreed between the Lords and the Commons and the Care Act has Royal Assent.  Everyone – local authorities, NHS bodies, public, voluntary and private organisations – are busy assessing the potential impact of the new law on what they do. How will it help/hinder; what are the gaps; what are the costs; what will we do now and what can wait; which clauses take priority; who is going to do what and how will we cope? The questions go on and the project and risk management training is put to the test. Projects will be making similar judgements themselves and the national evaluation team too will be considering how it might impact on our work on Fulfilling Lives; Supporting people with multiple needs.

Thinking positively, it is thus timely for a blog on the subject of the Care Act.  If you are reading this then you are probably on the news and events section of our website dedicated to the national evaluation of Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives; Supporting people with multiple needs. When you are done reading this, please do take a moment to look around the rest of the site and glean some more information about the anticipations of those involved.

It is certainly true that the Act, is a massive piece of legislation – both consolidating and creating law. For those of you seeking an understanding of the fledgling legislation see the government‘s explanatory notes. If you want to explore the extensive impact on those with multiple needs and their families then this and subsequent blogs will provide some thoughts and signposts that are intended to creatively provoke.

This is not simple stuff and the government has already published 19 factsheets and a glossary on the Act. It is not something that can be dealt with in a single blog. Even honing in on the Fulfilling Lives; Supporting people with multiple needs initiative doesn’t make things more straightforward. There are not many parts of the Act without significance to the initiative. To get an idea of the scale of effort involved have a look at the recent Adfam policy briefing. This, one of many that comes from an internet search, has the particular value of recognising that it is not just the Care Act but the Children and Families Act as well that requires attention.

So it’s complicated. But this blogger has a plan to trigger thinking about the Care Act. That plan has two elements which will feature in each blog:

  •  First, to share and comment on the approach of local authorities and other public bodies
  • Second, to support learning and evaluation around the Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives; Supporting people with multiple needs initiative

The blog plan will prioritise what is new in law and practice, alongside those aspects of the Act that are new in law but not in policy. Here we will focus particularly on considering how the Act might affect the national evaluation. The top half-dozen items of interest are:

1.      Carer’s Assessments – clause 10

2.      Eligibility – clause 13

3.      Cap on care costs – clauses 15 and 16

4.      Independent Personal Budget – clause 28

5.      Care Account – clause 29

6.      Advocacy – clauses 68 and 69

As an illustration, for one local authority, these are all in a project plan that contains 45 such high level items of which the risk RAG rating has 13 in the red – or lots of work to do and not yet ready – category. Their agenda seems like a worthy blogging schedule with the next being about Carers and Multiple Needs – what does the Care Act offer?