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Care in the community during coronavirus
28 May 2020

The Covid-19 crisis has seen care providers face unprecedented challenges. 

As a result, the Government’s new legislation has created ‘easements’ to help local authorities prioritise care and support during the pandemic. This includes temporary measures under the Care Act 2014, called easements, which are effectively relaxing requirements for local authorities to assess or meet social care needs. 

Partner Michelle Monnes-Thomas explains more about the changes and what they mean, as well as covering some common questions around community care. 

What is an assessment under the Care Act 2014?

This is what the local authority will do to see what sort of care and support a person needs to help them in their day to day lives. 

A financial assessment will be undertaken to see if someone can pay or contribute to their care and whether the local authority needs to assist or contribute to the funding of the care and support package or provide options to the individual on the funding of their care and support. Further information and guidance for local authorities can be found here.

Do I still get the same level of care as before the easements were introduced? 

The Coronavirus Act 2020 does not affect the safeguarding protections in the Care Act. This means Local Authorities are expected to continue to offer the same level of safeguarding oversight. Even under the ‘easements’, local authorities are required to ensure the best possible provision of care to people in these exceptional circumstances.

What requirements are being relaxed?

There is a suspension of the obligation to conduct an assessment of the needs of adults, children and carers and also a suspension of duties in relation to determining eligibility for care and support.

Providers may not have to prepare or review care and support plans. And while local authorities are also not obliged to conduct financial assessments under the temporary measures, councils will not be able to charge for care without having done an assessment. Charges can be applied after the end of the emergency period for care during it.

Is it just the person who needs help and support who can get an assessment?

No, a carer can request an assessment too for themselves. Under the Care Act carers have rights and are entitled to an assessment of their own. A carer can be a family member, a partner or a friend.

What is domiciliary care?

This is also known as home care or non-residential care, it enables someone to live independently in their own home.

What is a direct payment?

This is a payment made directly to someone in need of care and support by their Local Authority to give them greater choice and flexibility about how their care is received. 

What could care and support look like?

This could be practical, financial or emotional support. It could mean for example a care home, home care, provision of aids and adaptations to help people manage their lives and to get extra help. 

If my spouse goes into care will I have to sell my house to pay for care?

The Property would be disregarded from any financial assessment if the spouse remains residing at the property. 

What happens if just I own my house will I have to sell it to pay for my care?

You could consider renting the property and using the income to pay towards the costs of your care. The value of the property would be disregarded if your stay was temporary and it is intended that you will return home or that you have taken steps to sell your home and acquire a more suitable property. Further disregards do apply for example if a relative over the age of 60 lives with you or a child lives with you or an incapacitated relative.

The Local Authority can offer you a deferred payment.

What are the limits and when do I pay for my care?

If a person has above £23,250.00 the starting point is they will pay for their care the lower limit is £14,250.00.A tariff income will apply between those two thresholds which assumes that for every £250 of capital, or part of that capital the person in receipt of care is able to pay £1 per week towards the costs of their care. 

Can my benefits be taken as payment towards my care?

Yes, most benefits will be taken into account. There are some disregarded benefits such as the mobility element of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments.

What is NHS Continuing Healthcare?

This is a package of ongoing health care and support that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS where the individual meets the criteria and has a primary health need.