People working in social care jobs are set to see major changes taking place within their sector following the ratification of long-gestating care reform legislation by the government.
On May 15th 2014, the Care Bill was passed into law and became the Care Act 2014. It aims to offer a more effective and streamlined approach to regulating the sector, with the goal of making it fairer and easier to understand for staff and patients alike.
Key changes include the introduction of a cap of £72,000 on the amount people will have to spend on the care they need, regardless of how much they have in savings or assets. Once this threshold is reached, the state will handle additional costs.
Meanwhile, the means testing level for social care has been lowered, making it easier for people on lower incomes to receive professional care at a subsidised rate. On top of this, a minimum eligibility threshold has been set across the country, meaning people will no longer lose out on care provision due to a change in local government policy.
Other new measures include increased access to information allowing service users to compare care providers and costs, while a more stringent regulatory system will also be put in place to ensure proper accountability within the sector.
Additionally, new rights will be extended to carers to ensure they are eligible for state support as well as patients.
The £3.8 billion announced in the Spending Review settlement to bring together health and social care budgets will play a crucial role in enacting these changes, while helping to achieve better coordination between care workers and other NHS professionals in order to deliver on the vision of a truly joined-up healthcare service.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: "The Care Act represents the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years, putting people and their carers in control of their care and support."
This comes as part of wider efforts by the government to shift the focus of the NHS from hospital-based treatment to preventative care in community settings. This change could create new opportunities for social care providers in future.
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