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This blog post was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

All change as assessment and eligibility get a makeover

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support, Guest author

In her debut blog for Social Care News, Rose De Paeztron, Practice Development Manager at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), sees much to commend in the Care Act reforms.

Can you imagine, twenty years ago, legislation setting down ways to listen to what adult services users need and want? Yet, from April this year, professionals will be encouraged to adopt a more rounded approach to assessment and eligibility; the idea now being that we must focus on people’s wellbeing.

Rose: '[This is a Care Act] which has been thought through...from April, the emphasis will be on listening to what people have to say.'
Rose: '[This is a Care Act] which has been thought through...from April, the emphasis will be on listening to what people have to say.'
The Care Act sets out, in one place, the duties councils must observe when it comes to assessing people’s needs, and also their eligibility for state funded care and support.

So, for instance, local authorities will have to use the new national minimum threshold to judge eligibility - and we at SCIE have new resources to help.

But it’s also an act which has been thought through. And it starts with a conversation. Too often in the past, assessment and eligibility has been an obscure process for people with care and support needs - and their carers. From April, the emphasis will be on listening to what people have to say. They will receive their own copy of the assessment, which gives a clear definition about whether care and support fits into the person’s life and preferred outcomes. The carer will have access to a robust set of information and the user should have a better care journey.

Carers should have the reassurance that the process is looking to support an individual’s wellbeing. By supporting them over assessment and eligibility, they are put on more of an equal footing with person needing and receiving care.

And if staff spend time on an assessment, then a consensus can be reached with all parties. It’s certainly worth the investment up front, which can generate benefits later in life - so people are supported to take more responsibility for their own lives further down the line.

Developing and coordinating the range of products for SCIE's assessment and eligibility resources has been a significant task at times. I've worked with some great people from local authorities and voluntary sector organisations, who've contributed a huge amount of effort and thinking. So, big thanks to them and of course not forgetting our colleagues at the Department of Health.

For instance, we’ve produced a map of the process of assessment to make it simpler for professionals, users and carers; and a guide helping to make sure that assessment is both proportionate and appropriate. There will be more resources released by SCIE shortly.

Many people have had negative experiences from the ‘one size fits all’ approach of the past. Nowhere does this seem more unfair than with fluctuating needs. A film, soon to be available on the SCIE website, focuses on Gillian who has Parkinson’s. Some days her symptoms amount to a ‘shake and a tremble’ but on other days she can’t move at all. She says it’s difficult to know when the fluctuations are going to occur, but that she’s learnt to pace herself. She was worried she’d be assessed purely on the way she presented herself on the day of assessment.

However, Gillian was relieved when she heard that fluctuations in her condition would be taken into account. Gillian’s advice to assessors, therefore, is to ask not just what good days look like, but bad days also. Factoring in fluctuating needs allows people to be treated as individuals and offered greater flexibility in care and support.

So please do use our resources. We also have a number of learning events starting this month in London, Leeds, Cambridge and Bristol; these will give an overview of the Care Act but there is also specialist learning on offer just for assessment and eligibility.

Further information
SCIE’s new assessment and eligibility resources are part of a suite of tools commissioned by the Department of Health in partnership with the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to support those commissioning and providing care and support in implementing the Care Act 2014. Find out more on the LGA website.

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  1. Comment by Marie McWilliams posted on

    It would have been nice to see a reference to advocacy in your blog Rose. It's a vitally important part of the new Care Act

  2. Comment by Dr Felix Ugwumadu posted on

    All change as assessment and eligibility get a makeover

    It is good to see a major new Legislation (Care Act 2014) enacted as this long-overdue. I recon, such major legislation was the NHS and Community Act (1990), which unravelled differences in health and social care, inequity in services delivery to all client groups (older people, mental health, physical and learning disabilities) yet, this created opportunities for clients/service users’ normalisation in the community. The same Act set in stone the process of assessment of needs and prospect for care management. Based on these affirmations, am beginning to question “what is new in the Care Act (2014), probably, a few such as the benchmark for residential care funding.

    The fact remains, the Care Act 2014 is talking about “Wellbeing”, for every professional social care encompasses a holistic model of assessment, which wellbeing is part of that framework. Unfortunately the local authorities have decided to “cherry pick” what they consider as priority within the assessment matrix (critical, substantial, moderate and low). This has been officially supported by legislation such as the Fair Access to Care (2010). If I may ask, was this Act a mistake or a manipulation through political rhetoric? For me the NHS and Community Care Act (1990) was a step in the right direction, which was let down by the authorities.

    The care Act (2014) is a mere rehearsal of what is already known and what people from all social spheres (and in particular health and social care professionals) have been clamouring for yet, the politicians pretended not have been aware; of lack of financial resources and human capital in the services. Professional have long been seeking for support with a view to broaden health and social care assessment that embraces wellbeing and preventative measures yet, politics took upper hand defeat their willingness to carry out assessment to core..

    What are needed to see the Care Act (2014) through are; a clear definition of what “Wellbeing” is and a huge injection of funds to mitigate future problems that might deflect the anticipated outcome of the legislation, otherwise, the Act maybe a WHITE ELEPHANT…