In an interview with Editor Laura Evans, Health Minister Dr Daniel Poulter and Chairman & CIO of Cloudbuy Ronald Duncan discuss the Care Act and the impact it will have on local authorities.
Following healthcare reforms last year, the role local authorities’ play in public health has significantly grown. Social care is at the heart of the reforms and The Care Act, which will come into effect in April 2015, will further cement this. The Care Act is one of the most significant reforms to the social care system in more than 60 years. The Act hopes to make a substantial difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society, and help them to live more independent lives.
Aiming to place more emphasis on prevention, the Act will help to make the care system clearer and fairer for those that use and need it. Carers for the first time will be put on the same level footing as the people they care for. It will also simplify the process to enable older people to be looked after by another local authority, without interrupting their care.
Following a speech delivered at the LGA conference in July, Editor Laura Evans spoke to Health Minister Dr Daniel Poulter MP, and Chairman & CIO of cloudBuy Roland Duncan, on how The Care Act will impact local authorities and the role ICT plays in supporting independent living.
“Undoubtedly the Care Act will have a very positive impact, not just for local authorities but also the people they look after. For the first time we’re going to have a National Affordability Care Assessment, which means if a person being cared for is moved from one local authority to another, their level of care can be reassessed without it being interrupted,” explains Poulter.
The Act will not only benefit local authorities, but also carers and the people that are cared for. A total of £3.8bn will be made available for councils across the UK to help improve their services and transform the way care is delivered.
Poulter said: “There are some real benefits for the people who are looked after and the local authorities themselves.
“The £3.8bn Care Fund will transform the way that care is delivered. It is about making sure that people with long term conditions such as dementia, heart disease, or disabilities are looked after in a much more personal way and receive better support in their own home and communities.”
In order to help people live more independently, technology plays a significant role, delivering effective support to help deliver the right care. “There are many care providers that are not doing it to be millionaires, but are doing it to provide better care. They work more like charities than private sector companies, and the new technology is making it a lot easier for them to administer services. This is an important aspect because if you can streamline services – it makes for better care.”
Intelligent use of technology allows people to manage their own care at an early stage and reduce the amount of emergency NHS admissions. The Better Care Fund aims to help local authorities do this by managing services in a more efficient and effective way, as the Minister explains: “It reduces the impact on acute services for the local authority and NHS. It is also good community care. People will have support at home rather than having to turn up in crisis in A&E.
“From a cost perspective there is a real opportunity for local authorities as well. At the moment they are often assessing someone’s care needs, and the NHS or social services will often be doing the same.
“Putting money into place will help to reduce some of the duplication of processes and administration. Investments in the right technology will help to support people in their own homes, as well as with the delivery of the care budgets.”
The Better Care Fund will be distributed via an arrangement between the NHS and local social services, based on the needs of local areas. The two sides will work together in order to determine where the main priorities lie. However, the Minister believes the Better Care Fund is building on work that is already there.
“It is about breaking down the barriers between the NHS and local authorities and prioritising quality of care. If it hadn’t been for the Better Care Fund, much of the challenges would still be institutional barriers”, he says.
Duncan concluded that the technical hurdles have been overcome such as budgets, and its now about getting people working together in partnership to deliver the care that is needed.
A consultation has been opened by the Department of Health for local people to give their view on how local authorities should deliver care and support reforms. More information can be found here – http://careandsupportregs.dh.gov.uk/