IMCA involvement in accommodation decisions and care reviews
Local authority care assessments and care plans
Section 47 of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 imposes a duty on local authorities to carry out an assessment of need for community care services with people who appear to them to need such services. It would be unlawful for an accommodation decision (aside for urgent decisions) to be made before such an assessment has been completed. Local authority care plans record how the person's eligible needs will be met. A care plan should be completed before a final decision is made about a person's accommodation, otherwise the person could be facing a move without a clear understanding about whether and how their needs will be met. Once support is identified in the care plan there is a legal requirement for this to be provided. It cannot be withdrawn without a reassessment.
IMCAs should access and scrutinise both the assessment and care plan prior to submitting a final report for both accommodation and care reviews.
IMCAs may make representations with regard to the content of both the assessment and care plan to ensure the person's needs and wishes are appropriately addressed. Similarly, the person drawing up these documents may request the IMCA's input.
It is very important that IMCAs pay close attention to these documents for the following reasons:
- If the IMCA does not raise concerns about the assessment or care plan, the local authority may wrongly assume that the IMCA supports every aspect of the plan.
- If the IMCA formally challenges an accommodation decision, the local authority may defend its position by identifying how it meets the needs identified in the care assessment and the care plan. In such cases the IMCA should be able to demonstrate how and when they raised concerns about these documents (e.g. emails identifying factors which may not have been considered).
- Future care reviews (which may not involve an IMCA) are likely to focus on ensuring the local authority care plan is being adhered to. Such reviews may be undertaken by someone who has no previous knowledge of the person.