A smiling carer chats with an elderly lady

The Care Act 2014: assessment and eligibility

One of the most important aspects of the Care Act is the assessment, which looks at who should receive care and support, and evaluates when a ‘trigger event’ happens.

The starting point is that the person who feels they may need care and assistance is put at the centre of the process. The assessment must establish what the needs of the individual are and the local authority must then consider whether the individual is eligible for care and support and, more specifically, what care and support is appropriate.

These assessments can be requested by a carer and are not limited to the individual needing care.

Local authorities must carry out such an assessment “for any adult with an appearance of need for care and support, regardless of whether or not the local authority thinks that the individual has eligible needs or of their financial situation”.

With regard to the carer, this assessment must be undertaken not only to look a the carer’s role, but also the sustainability of the role and whether the carer will require further assistance either now or in the future.

These requirements and obligations are a great help to those who want to plan for the future, and, rather than waiting for a ‘crisis’ to take place before seeking assistance, guidance and support can be requested before matters become too difficult. Again, the emphasis is on the individual and promoting their wellbeing. It is even possible for the assessment to be undertaken by the individual (with assistance) which can be a helpful approach.

It is paramount that any assessment undertaken must look at all aspects of an individual’s life (or their carer’s). The assessment must consider the prevention, reduction and delay of care needs as well as the overriding principle of wellbeing. An assessment must also look at whether the needs arise from a physical or mental impairment and the impact this has on the individual’s life.

Without an assessment, the local authority cannot determine whether an individual’s needs should be funded under the NHS Continuing Health Care Framework and so local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups are under an obligation to ensure that any assessment is done in a timely manner. This is an important aspect to consider when assessing eligibility for care as it may not be the responsibility of the local authority – rather the NHS.

For further information please contact Anthony Fairweather.