Fair access to care services (FACS): prioritising eligibility for care and support
Initial contact - Who has the right to assessment?
Councils must not exempt any person who approaches or is referred to them for help from the process to determine eligibility for social care, regardless of their age, circumstances or the nature of their needs ... needs should be considered on a person-centred basis.(‘Eligibility for social care’, DH, 2010, para 51)
Anyone who has – or might have – social care needs has a right to an assessment, and must not be excluded on the basis of their financial means, or on grounds of lack of capacity. When determining people’s right to assessment, staff will need to do the following:
- Respond in appropriate ways to a wide range of individuals and carers with a diversity of presenting needs. Some will be individuals who need safeguarding assistance, who have been neglected or have neglected themselves, or who are unable themselves to ask for assessments.
- Provide individuals and carers with, or signpost them to, relevant up-to-date information in an accessible form about resources they may wish consider when deciding how to meet their needs for care and support. As well as social care resources, this should include information about universal services, and specialist information relevant to their health, income, housing, employment or education.
- Either supply information and advice direct, or refer individuals and carers to other organisations able to offer the information and support they require. This may help some people, if they do not meet eligibility criteria or are self-funding, to resolve their questions or arrange their own support, without denying them access to the assessment process.
The Care Bill will place a duty on the local authority to carry out an assessment, where it appears that an individual may have need for care and support, or a carer a need for support. Any adult with any level of need will have a right to an assessment, including carers, for whom this is an extension of existing rights. The result will be authorities having early contact with people who have low-level needs. The government expects that the proposals for funding reform will encourage more people to engage with their local authority and to do so earlier. This may help to prevent needs increasing, or in some cases prevent people from requiring care and support in the future.