To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, and to consider and endorse or make recommendations to the Cabinet Member on the proposed decision to adopt the new national minimum eligibility criteria as Kent’s offer from April 2015.
Mr M Thomas-Sam, Strategic Business Advisor, and Ms C Grosskopf, Strategic Policy Lead for the Care Act Programme, were in attendance for this and the following item.
1. Mr Thomas-Sam introduced the report and reminded Members of the huge scale of the change to social care policy enshrined in the new Care Act, which had consolidated and changed much existing legislation. There would be national and local media campaigns early in 2015 to raise public awareness of the changes, and all current service users and stakeholder partners would be written to. In addition, staff would be given extensive training to help them learn the new legislation and switch to applying the new rules and criteria when undertaking care assessments. A briefing for elected Members had been arranged for 15 January, to which all elected Members had been invited.
2. Mr Thomas-Sam and Mr Ireland responded to comments from Members, as follows:-
a) Mr Thomas-Sam clarified that the previous eligibility criteria had focussed on minimising the risks to a person’s independence, while the new national eligibility criteria had changed this focus to concentrate more on outcomes;
b) the retention of the manager discretion element of the assessment process was welcomed, and Mr Thomas-Sam agreed that it was important in any social care legislation that there should be an ability to address cases of exceptional need. Mr Ireland added that there would always be some people who had needs which the County Council would meet, even though they did not fit within the new eligibility criteria;
c) the appeal process by which service users could challenge their assessments needed to be easily accessible. Mr Thomas-Sam explained that a new national appeal system would be established, relating solely to the implementation of the Care Act, however, the form of this would not be announced until early in 2015;
d) Mr Ireland explained that the County Council needed to come to a view on the new national eligibility criteria for two reasons; firstly, because it was not lawful for any local authority to set its eligibility criteria at a higher level than the national minimum and, secondly, because the extent to which the Council believed that the new criteria represented a change to legislation would determine what level of public consultation it needed to undertake. The Council would need to form this view early, so that, if public consultation were needed, this could be undertaken as early as possible. It was clear that there was some level of change between the old and new criteria, and the need for extensive staff training and adjustment to a new regime added to the extent of the adjustment which needed to be undertaken; and
e) Mr Thomas-Sam reminded Members that existing service users who had been assessed against the current criteria would be unaffected and would be passported to the new national eligibility criteria in April 2015.
3. The Cabinet Member, Mr Gibbens, thanked Members for their careful consideration of the issues set out in the report, ... view the full minutes text for item 12