The new Care Act comes into force in April 2015. This is the biggest change to health and social care legislation and nearly 60 years.
One of the main changes is that there will be standard level of eligibility criteria for England. This will be set at a similar level to the current “severe”. (Currently there are 4 levels: low, moderate, severe and critical – most local authorities already have their criteria set at severe although some, like Doncaster, have kept it at moderate). This may mean that some people currently receiving a local authority care package may lose some of that support once they go through the review process.
Importantly, however, any adult who appears to need some care or support is able to have an Assessment of those needs carried out by a social worker/assessment officer. The assessment can take place face-to-face or even over the phone as long as it is proportionate to the needs of the individual.
Even if the person does not meet the eligibility criteria for support from the local authority, the social worker has a duty to ensure they provide information, advice and guidance on how the individuals support needs can be met.
SCIE has produced some useful guides on the Act and on assessment and eligibility: http://www.scie.org.uk/care-act-2014/?dm_i=4O5,32VKJ,UW4FG,B20JT,1
Skills for care have some excellent resources for delivering information and training sessions on the Care Act: http://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Standards/Care-Act/Care-Act.aspx