May 2020: Changes in relation to the Coronavirus Act 2020
New legislation and guidance have been issued by the Government in response to the Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak. The Coronavirus Act 2020 (see Coronavirus Act 2020 chapter) and the Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities (see Care Act Easements Guidance: Summary chapter) outline changes policy and practice as a result. Local authorities should continue to follow Care Act 2014 guidance (the Care and Support Statutory Guidance) unless it is essential to make changes in order to maintain services and manage pressures.
The changes are temporary, will be regularly reviewed and removed as soon as possible.
The changes in the Care Act 2014 in relation to care and support planning mean that there is no longer a duty to prepare a care and support plan.
- If a care and support plan is reviewed there is still a duty to involve the person concerned.
- Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention and / or the common law may require an appropriate degree of involvement of the adult or their carer in planning a care package.
Care Act easements allows local authorities not to do assessments, check that a person’s needs are eligible or conduct care and support plan reviews as required under the Care Act. However, there is an expectation in the Coronavirus Act that the local authority will do everything it can to continue to meet an adult’s needs as originally set out in the Care Act for as long as possible. Guidance will be given by the local authority to its staff and partner agencies, if it is not be able to meet the duties under the Care Act due to the impact of COVID-19 on staffing and resources. It will also inform staff and partners as to when those pressures have eased and normal Care Act duties are to be resumed.
CARE ACT 2014
Following the needs and carer’s assessment and determination of eligibility, a care and support plan (for an adult with care and support needs) or a support plan (for a carer) must be provided where a local authority meets a person’s needs.
Care and support should put people in control of their care, with the support that they need to enhance their wellbeing and improve their connections to family, friends and community. A vital part of this process for people with ongoing needs which the local authority is going to meet is the care and support plan, or the support plan in the case of carers.
The guiding principles in the development of the plan are that the process should be person centred and person led, in order to meet the needs and achieve the outcomes of the person in ways that work best for them as an individual or as part of a family.
The process and the outcomes should be built holistically around:
- people’s wishes and feelings;
- their needs;
- values and aspirations.
These principles apply irrespective of the extent to which the person chooses or is able to actively direct the process.
Consideration of needs should also include the extent to which the needs or a person’s other circumstances may mean that they are at risk of abuse or neglect. The planning process may bring to light new information that suggests a safeguarding issue, and therefore lead to a requirement to carry out a safeguarding enquiry (see Safeguarding Adults Procedures). Where such an enquiry leads to further specific interventions being put in place to address a safeguarding issue, these should be included in the care and support plan.
Each partner in the plan should be clear about their role. For example, the person may need help to weigh up different service options to understand what each involves and to be able to choose the most appropriate and least restrictive option possible.
In some circumstances it may not be appropriate to jointly prepare the plan. For example, a person may not wish their family to be involved, the authority may be aware that family members may have conflicting interests, or the person may have asked the local authority to prepare the plan with someone who lives far away from the person and even with the assistance of email, phone and other methods of communication is unable to prepare the plan in a timely fashion.
The test for allowing the person and others to prepare the plan jointly with the local authority should start with the presumption that the person at the heart of the care plan should give consent for others to do so.
Safeguarding principles must be included in order to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between the person and the third party they wish to involve to prepare the plan jointly with (see Safeguarding: What is it and Why does it Matter?)
Where a person lacks capacity and cannot consent to third parties jointly preparing the plan, the local authority must always act in the best interests of the person requiring care and support.