West Sussex County Council is preparing for the most significant change to adult social care legislation since the 1940s.
The Care Act comes into effect from April 2015, replaces the majority of the existing adult social care legislation and introduces a range of duties for county councils like West Sussex.
It places care and support law into a single, clear modern statute for the first time and enshrines the principle of individual wellbeing as the driving force behind it.
Peter Catchpole, the county council’s cabinet member for Adults Social Care and Health, will lead the authority’s formal response to the Government’s consultation on the draft regulations and guidance on implementing the act.
These provide more detail to aspects of the Care Act and the statutory guidance aims to provide local authorities with the information they need about how they should meet the legal obligations placed on them by the Act and regulations.
From April 2016 it also implements funding reforms which could have serious implications for the authority.
Mr Catchpole said: “We are working through the implications of this new Act and the effect it will have on us as a county council and our residents and welcome this new guidance and the opportunity from government to make comments.
“I am very keen to make sure we are able to maximise all opportunities that come from it for the good of the people we are here to care for and we will be contacting our partners to see how together, we can ensure the introduction of the Care Act maximises all the potential benefits for residents.
“I am particularly concerned to ensure that we fully promote the services that exist to support wellbeing for all adults in the county, building on the work of our Prevention Assessment Teams and the county’s Wellbeing Hubs and that we can enhance support for the provision of services that help to prevent or delay the development of care and support needs, including for carers. We will also focus on further development of information and advice services across the county.
“We will be making our formal response to this consultation in due course.”
He added: “Financial reforms are another important part of the new legislation, for example the intention to place a cap on the amount of money that people will have to pay towards the cost of their eligible social care needs. These have the potential to create significant financial implications for the county council and reinforce the case for our Later Life priorities around promoting independence and community-based care.”
Throughout the summer and autumn, the county council will start to work with its key partners across West Sussex including those organisations who provide services directly to residents, on some of the changes that will be needed to implement the new Act.
A factsheet is also now available to explain what the Care Act is and what it is likely to mean for residents in West Sussex – www.westsussex.gov.uk/careact