CARE ACT 2014
Local authorities and partner agencies must provide information and advice relating to care and support for adults and support for carers. This includes how to make a complaint and what to do if there are safeguarding concerns about an adult.
Information and advice is fundamental to enabling people, carers and families to take control of, and make well informed choices about, their care and support and how they 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 component of preventing or delaying peoples’ need for care and support.
The provision of information and advice must cover more than just basic information about care and support and cover the range of care and support related areas. The local authority should ensure information and advice is available to 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. Partner agencies should also provide information and advice in relation to the services they provide, to adults and their carers.
The local authority must provide independent advocacy to facilitate the person’s involvement in the care and support assessment, planning and review processes where an individual would experience substantial difficulty in understanding, retaining or using information given, or in communicating their views, wishes or feelings and where there is nobody else appropriate (see Independent Advocacy).
See also Complaints or Appeals in Relation to the Safeguarding Adults Process
Information 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 be informed that their concern or complaint, against either an organisation or the safeguarding process in which they have been / are involved, will be taken seriously, be dealt with independently and that they will be kept involved in the process to the degree that they wish to be. They should be reassured they will receive help and support in taking action on their own behalf. They should also be advised they can nominate an advocate or representative to speak out and act on their behalf if they wish (see also Independent Advocacy).
3. Adult Safeguarding
See also Safeguarding Adults Procedures
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.
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, including 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 of 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, but not be limited to, information and advice on:
- available housing and housing-related support options for those with care and support needs;
- effective 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, handyman 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;
- raise awareness of 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.
5. Quality of Information and Advice
Information and advice provided by the service should be clear, easily understood, accurate, up-to-date and consistent with other sources of information and advice. Staff providing information and advice 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 individual’s requirements, is comprehensive and is given at an early stage
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 source, rather than by the local authority itself. This is particularly likely to be the case when people need advice about how and whether to question or challenge the decisions of the local authority or other statutory body (see Independent Advocacy).
6. 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 / partner agencies;
- as part of a needs or carer’s assessment, including joint Continuing Healthcare;
- 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 local authority or other types of care and support plan;
- when a person may be considering a move to another local authority / geographical 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 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 person’s 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;
The local authority and partner agencies should ensure that products and materials are as accessible as possible for all potential users and meet specified standards for websites, printed materials and telephone advice for example. As required 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 accessible formats or with communication support.
Information and advice channels are likely to include all of the following:
- face to face contact;
- use of peer to peer 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. The local authority must ensure that their information and advice service has due regard to the needs of these people. These include, but are not limited to:
- 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 some people with dementia, may benefit from an independent person to help them to access or avail themselves of necessary information and advice. Any such need for help to facilitate access to this universal information and advice needs to be considered in planning for delivery of the service, although the duty to make arrangements for an individual to have an independent advocate available to them in certain circumstances only applies in relation to an individual’s involvement in the assessment, planning and review processes. From the point of first contact with, or referral to, the local authority, consideration of the duty to provide for independent advocacy to support involvement in assessment, planning and reviews should be undertaken (see Independent Advocacy).
See also Carers Section
The local authority must recognise and respond to the specific requirements that carers have for both general and personal information and advice. Partner agencies should also consider carers’ needs when working with adults or their carers. A carer’s need for information and advice may be separate and distinct from information and advice for the person for whom they are caring. These distinct needs may be covered together, in a similar manner 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.