Historic act to protect
carers fails in its 1st year
1 year on from its launch, the
long awaited Care Act, billed as the most significant reform of social care law
in over 60 years and promising to safeguard the well being of disabled people
and carers, has failed in its 1st year, a charity study has found.
The new research from local disabled people's charity Revitalise; which runs
the Sandpipers respite break centre in Southport, supporting disabled people and
carers from around the region and beyond; found that 55% of England's local
authorities had spent less overall on services for disabled people and carers
since the Care Act came into being than in the year before; to the tune of an
incredible £397 million; and 42% had reduced their spending on respite
provision by an average of nearly £900,000 each.
A central pillar of the Care Act was the legal entitlement of all disabled
people and carers to an assessment of their support needs. However, the
Revitalise study, based on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, found that
local authorities gave fewer Needs Assessments for disabled people during the
1st year of the Care Act than in the year before it, and 48% had carried out
an average of 22% fewer Carer Assessments during the same period.
A parallel survey of disabled people and carers mirrored the FOI findings. 53%
of the disabled people and carers surveyed by Revitalise said the funding they
received had been reduced or not kept pace with inflation over the past year. As
a consequence, 66% said they felt more isolated and had been forced to reduce
their time spent taking valuable respite, and 44% said they were now struggling
to make ends meet.
Despite prominent support from central government, the failure of the Care Act
was amply demonstrated by Revitalise's research. 69% disabled people and carers
told the charity they were unaware of any changes to their entitlements as a
result of the Care Act and 49% said the services they received had got worse
since the Act's introduction.
The Care Act, part of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's "Revolution in the
heath and social care sector", came into force on 1 April 2015 and was one year
old in April 2016. Revitalise's study, based on FOI requests and its own
research, looked at the impact of the first year of the Care Act compared with
the preceding year.
In light of the study's findings, Revitalise is calling for an overhaul of the
Care Act to ensure that all the disabled people and carers within local
authority jurisdictions are approached and offered Carer or Needs Assessments,
and more funding from central government to enable local authorities to fulfil
all the pledges contained within the Act. The charity is also reiterating its
call for sufficient funding for respite breaks to be a fundamental element of
all social care provision.
Revitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:- "For the first time
in 60 years a piece of legislation has come along which purports to enshrine and
protect the rights, dignity and independence of disabled people and carers, but
it has become abundantly clear from our own research that the Care Act has
failed to make any meaningful impact on the quality of life of the people it
sets out to support; and in many respects their situation appears to have got
worse. This is a tragedy.
It is already well known that there is a massive and growing shortfall in adult
social care budgets, which is expected to be around £4.3 billon by 2020, so it
is hardly surprising that local authorities are struggling to implement the Care
Act properly. In fact, local authorities raised concerns about implementing the
Care Act long before it came into force.
As a respite provider, the importance of regular time off; for carer and cared
for alike; is well known to us, so it is very disheartening to find out that
adequate funding for respite is one of the services that has diminished under
the Care Act.
Despite its very laudable intentions, our fear is that until local authorities
get squarely behind the principles of the Care Act; and the equally important
issue of the shortfall in adult social care funding is addressed - disabled
people and carers will continue to struggle to achieve even the most basic
quality of life."
There are in excess of 724,000 disabled people and 750000 carers in the North
West. In the UK, around 1 person in 8 is in some kind of caring role.
Revitalise provides respite holidays for disabled people and carers, at
Sandpipers and two other accessible centres in Chigwell in Essex and
Southampton. Each centre provides short breaks, with 24 hour nurse led care
on call and personal support, with a wide range of accessible activities and
excursions in a holiday environment.