Fair access to care services (FACS): prioritising eligibility for care and support
Initial contact - First response: its importance for practice
Getting the initial response right can save time and costs on assessment later ... Councils should however be aware of the risks of screening people out of the assessment process before sufficient information is known about them ...(‘Response to the first contact and assessment’, DH, 2010, paras 75/76)
Preethi’s story – importance of culturally appropriate advice and support
Preethi and her family live 50 miles away from her parents. Her mother has dementia and Preethi’s father wants her to come back home to care for her mother. He is opposed to anyone from outside the family caring for his wife. A friend suggests Preethi contact the local Carers’ Centre, where there is a Bangladeshi worker, who gives Preethi the confidence to ask for a carer’s assessment.
The quality of first contact for individuals and carers seeking support can have a major impact on their willingness to engage in the future. Systems for managing first contact differ from one local authority to another. Staff will need to understand the process used in their own authority. In many authorities, individuals and carers will make their first contact through a call centre or town-centre contact point, where trained staff, guided by their manager, will reach a decision about whether:
- to provide information, advice or support and/or to signpost the individual to further sources of information, advice or support in the community and voluntary sector
- to arrange for the person to be considered for referral to early intervention, prevention or reablement services
- to refer the person to open access or universal services
- to refer the individual for a social care assessment of their needs for care and support, or if a carer, for support
- to refer the individual for an assessment of their mental capacity.
Staff involved in receiving referrals and making initial contact should do the following:
- Ensure that the approach is welcoming, that the individual’s or family’s presenting needs and concerns have been listened to and taken seriously, and that individuals and carers are clear about what will happen next.
- Recognise levels of risk, including any indication of safeguarding concerns, and their implications for urgency of response.
- Explain the organisation’s procedures for implementing FACS to the individual or family as appropriate.
- Be aware that presenting needs may indicate escalating or future difficulties.
- Take into account additional needs arising from restricted capacity or communication difficulties, and make provision for support to enable the person to participate fully in the assessment and care planning processes.
- Consider whether information, advice, advocacy and signposting to universal services, local groups or user-led organisations will enable individuals and carers to have choice and control in their lives.
- Be aware that individuals needing specialist care and support and their carers may benefit from a referral to a third sector organisation working in a specific area. This will provide the individual and/or carer with information, advice, support and advocacy from workers with specific expertise.
- Accurately record any services or support (e.g. from the NHS) which the individual or family is receiving at the present time. The first time many individuals and carers need support is following hospital discharge (e.g. after a stroke or trauma, which may have changed the family needs and dynamics overnight). Some services relevant to an assessment and determination of need may already be going into the home and can augment the evidence base for assessment.