- Under the Care Act, the local authority is responsible for setting up and maintaining – including review – information and advice services relating to care and support.
- All adults – including carers – in the local authority area, who need information and advice about care and support, must be able to access the service.
- The local authority must ensure that the information provided is of good quality, easily accessible and relevant.
- The local authority should take opportunities to provide or signpost people to advice and information when people in need of care and support are in contact.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Complaints
- 3. Adult Safeguarding
- 4. Who are Information and Advice Services for?
- 5. Quality of Information and Advice
- 6. Content
- 7. Opportunities to Provide Information and Advice
- 8. Accessibility of Information and Advice
Having access to good quality information and advice enables people, carers and families to take control of, and make well informed choices about, their care and support and how they will fund it. Not only does information and advice help to promote people’s wellbeing by increasing their ability to exercise choice and control, it is also a vital part of preventing or delaying people’s’ need for care and support.
The local authority has a legal duty to ‘establish and maintain a service for providing people in its area with information and advice relating to care and support for adults and support for carers’ (Care and Support Statutory Guidance: 3.2).
The local authority must ensure that information and advice services cover more than just basic information about care and support and cover a range of care and support related areas. The service should also address prevention of care and support needs, finances, health, housing, employment, what to do in cases of abuse or neglect of an adult and other areas where required.
Local authorities must also provide independent advocacy to assist the person’s involvement in the care and support assessment, planning and review processes where they would otherwise have substantial difficulty in understanding, retaining or using information given to them, or in communicating their views, wishes or feelings and there is nobody else who can offer this support (see Independent Advocacy chapter).
See also the chapter on Complaints or Appeals in Relation to the Safeguarding Adults Process.
Information on how to complain should be available in a range of media and produced in different, user friendly formats for people with care and support needs, and their carers. They should also be advised they can nominate an advocate or representative to speak out and act on their behalf during the complaints process if they wish (see also Independent Advocacy chapter).
3. Adult Safeguarding
The local authority and its partners have a duty to help people with care and support needs, and who may be at risk of abuse or neglect as a result of those needs, keep safe. Everyone in the community should understand the importance of safeguarding and help keep people safe.
3.1 Raising concerns and keeping safe
The local authority must provide information and advice to the public about how to raise concerns about the safety or wellbeing of an adult who has care and support needs. It should also support public knowledge and awareness of different types of abuse and neglect and how to support people to keep safe. The information and advice provided must also cover who to tell when there are concerns about abuse or neglect and what will happen when such concerns are raised, including information on the roles and responsibilities of the Safeguarding Adults Partnership.
3.2 Commissioning and partner agencies
All commissioners or providers of services in the public, voluntary or private sectors should disseminate information about these multi-agency procedures. Staff should also be familiar with their own agency’s procedures in relation to how to respond if they suspect or encounter adults who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect. This should be incorporated in staff manuals or handbooks, detailing terms and conditions of appointment and other employment procedures so that all individual staff members are aware of their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding adults. This information should emphasise that all those who express concern will be treated seriously and will receive a positive response from their managers.
4. Who are Information and Advice Services for?
The local authority is responsible for ensuring that all adults including carers who need for information and advice about care and support can access the service.
People who are likely to need information and advice include:
- people wanting to plan for their future care and support needs;
- people who may develop care and support needs, or whose current care and support needs may increase. Under the Care Act, local authorities are expected to take action to prevent, delay and / or reduce the care and support needs for these people (see Preventing, Reducing or Delaying Needs);
- people who have not contacted the local authority for assessment but are likely to be in need of care and support. Local authorities are expected to take steps to identify such people and encourage them to come forward for an assessment of their needs (see also Preventing, Reducing or Delaying Needs);
- people who become known to the local authority (through referral, including self-referral), at first contact where an assessment of their needs is being considered;
- people who are assessed by the local authority as currently being in need of care and support. Advice and information must be offered to these people irrespective of whether they have been assessed as having eligible needs which the local authority must meet;
- people who have eligible needs for care and support which the local authority is currently meeting (whether the local authority is paying for some, all or none of the costs of meeting those needs;
- people whose care and support or support plans are being reviewed;
- family members and carers of adults with care and support needs, (or those who are likely to develop care and support needs). Local authorities are expected to have regard to the importance of identifying carers and take action to reduce their needs for support;
- people who may benefit from financial information and advice on matters concerning care and support. Local authorities must consider the importance of identifying these people, to help them understand the financial costs of their care and support and access independent financial information and advice including from regulated financial advisers and;
- care and support staff who have contact with and provide information and advice as part of their jobs.
The local authority must recognise and respond to specific requirements that carers have for both general and personal information and advice. A carer’s need for information and advice may be distinct from information and advice for the person for whom they are caring. Their needs may be covered together, in a similar way to the local authority combining an assessment of a person needing care and support with a carer’s assessment, but may be more appropriately addressed separately. This may include:
- breaks from caring;
- the health and wellbeing of carers themselves;
- caring and advice on wider family relationships;
- carers’ financial and legal issues;
- caring and employment;
- caring and education; and
- a carer’s need for advocacy.
5. Quality of Information and Advice
The local authority must ensure that there is an accessible information and advice service that meets the needs of its population. Information and advice must be open to everyone who would benefit from it.
The local authority should ensure that information supplied is clear, meaning it can be understood and acted on by those receiving it.
It should be accurate, up to date and consistent with other sources of information and advice. Staff providing information and advice within a local authority and other frontline staff should be aware of accessibility issues and be appropriately trained.
All reasonable efforts should be taken to ensure that the information and advice provide meets the adult’s requirements, is comprehensive and is given at an early stage.
The local authority must make sure that all relevant information is available to people so they can make the best informed decision in their particular circumstances. Leaving out or withholding information is not acceptable.
There will be some circumstances where impartial information and advice are particularly important and the local authority should consider when this may be best provided by an independent organisation, rather than by the local authority itself. This is particularly likely to be the case when people need advice about if, how and when to question or challenge the decisions of the local authority.
The local authority must ensure that information and advice is available on:
- how the local care and support system works locally – about how the system works. This includes the assessment process, safeguarding, eligibility, and review, complaints, appeals, independent advocacy, supporting individual wellbeing charging for care and support costs, national resources, planning for future care, planning for future lack of capacity;
- how to access the care and support available locally;
- the choice and types of care and support, and the choice of care providers available in the local area – including prevention and reablement services and wider services that support wellbeing;
- how to access independent financial advice on matters relating to care and support;
- how to raise concerns about the safety or wellbeing of an adult with care and support needs (and also consider how to do the same for a carer with support needs).
Depending on local circumstances, the service should also include, information and advice on:
- housing and housing-related support options for those with care and support needs;
- treatment and support for health conditions, including Continuing Health Care arrangements;
- availability and quality of health services;
- availability of services that may help people remain independent for longer such as home improvement agencies, handyperson or maintenance services;
- availability of befriending services and other services to prevent social isolation;
- availability of intermediate care entitlements such as aids and adaptations;
- eligibility and applying for disability benefits and other types of benefits;
- availability of employment support for disabled adults;
- children’s social care services and transition to adult care and support;
- availability of carers’ services and benefits;
- sources of independent information, advice and advocacy;
- the Court of Protection, Power of Attorney and becoming a Deputy;
- the need to plan for future care costs;
- practical help with planning to meet future or current care costs;
- accessible ways and support to help people understand the different types of abuse and its prevention.
7. Opportunities to Provide Information and Advice
There are a number of direct opportunities that the local authority has to provide or signpost people to advice and information. These include:
- at first point of contact with the local authority;
- as part of a needs or carer’s assessment, including joint Continuing Healthcare assessments;
- during a period of reablement;
- around and following financial assessment;
- when considering a financial commitment such as a deferred payment agreement or top‑up agreement;
- during or following an adult safeguarding enquiry;
- when considering take up of a personal budget and/or Direct Payment;
- during the care and support planning process;
- during the review of a person’s care and support plan;
- when a person may be considering a move to another local authority area;
- at points in transition, for example when people needing care or carers under 18 become adults and the systems for support may change.
The local authority and its partners must also use wider opportunities to provide targeted information and advice at key points in people’s contact with the care and support, health and other local services. These may be at key ‘trigger points’ during a person’s life such as:
- contact with other local authority services;
- hospital entry and/or discharge;
- diagnosis of health conditions – such as dementia, stroke or an acquired impairment for example;
- consideration or review of Continuing Healthcare arrangements;
- take up of power of attorney;
- applications to Court of Protection;
- application for, or review of, disability benefits such as Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, and for Carers Allowance;
- access to work interviews;
- contact with local support groups, charities, or user-led organisations including carers’ groups and disabled persons’ organisations;
- contact with or use of private care and support services, including homes care;
- change or loss of housing;
- contact with the criminal justice system;
- admission to or release from prison;
- ‘Guidance Guarantee’ in the Pensions Act 2014;
8. Accessibility of Information and Advice
The local authority should ensure that products and materials (in all formats) are as accessible as possible for all potential users Websites should meet specific standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and guidance set out in Making Your Service Accessible (UK Government).
Printed products should be produced to appropriate guidelines with important materials available in easy-read, large print and languages other than English. Telephone services or face to face services should be available to people who do not have access to the internet or who need services to be delivered in another way to meet their specific needs. Local authorities should be particularly aware of the needs of individuals with complex but relatively rare conditions, such as deafblindness, and those with hidden disabilities.
Under the Equality Act 2010, reasonable adjustments should be made to ensure that disabled people have equal access to information and advice services. Reasonable adjustments could include the provision of information in a range of accessible formats or the provision of help with communication support. When a person contacts the information and advice service, they should be asked what what is the best way for information to be given to them, and how they prefer to communicate.
Information and advice should be available in a range of formats, including:
- face to face contact;
- use of social and professional contacts;
- community settings;
- advice and advocacy services;
- mass communications, and targeted use of leaflets, posters and so on (for example in GP surgeries);
- use of ‘free’ media such as newspaper, local radio stations, social media;
- the local authority’s own and other appropriate internet websites, including support for the self-assessment of needs;
- third party internet content and applications;
Some groups in need of information and advice about care and support may have particular requirements. These include:
- people with sensory impairments, such as visual impairment, deafblind and hearing impaired;
- people who do not have English as a first language;
- people who are socially isolated;
- people whose disabilities limit their physical mobility;
- people with learning disabilities;
- people with mental health problems.
Some people, including those with dementia, may benefit from an independent person to help them to access information and advice. From the point of first contact with, or referral to, the local authority, the provision of independent advocacy to support involvement in assessment, planning and reviews should be considered (see Independent Advocacy chapter).