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Health and social care rights

Explains your rights to social care, and how this differs from healthcare. Includes information on eligibility, needs assessments, financial assessments, and how local authorities may meet your needs.

The UK Government is making emergency changes to the law and introduced new regulations to help manage coronavirus (Covid-19). This includes changes which may affect your rights to health and social care.

See our page on coronavirus and social care to find out what these changes might mean for you.

What is care and support planning?

If the local authority has decided that you have eligible needs for care and support, then it will plan with you what support you can be given. You should be involved in the care and support planning process, and the plan should meet your needs and achieve the outcomes that you want.

The law says that the local authority must:

  • prepare a care and support plan, and give you a copy of that plan. This should happen within a reasonable time – the law does not set a time limit. If your needs are complex, your plan may take longer to prepare.
  • tell you which of your needs which it is going to meet can be met by direct payments
  • help you decide how to have your needs met.

How will I be involved in the care and support planning process?

The law is clear that you must be genuinely involved in planning your care and support. This means that:

  • you are the person who best knows what your needs are
  • you should play an active role in planning your care and support.

The process is described as 'person-centred' and 'person-led'.

The plan belongs to you and the planning process should be built around your wishes and feelings and your needs, values and aspirations. The law says that the local authority must take all reasonable steps to reach agreement with you about how to meet your needs.

What if I lack capacity to make care and support planning decisions?

In care and support planning, the local authority should not assume that you lack capacity to make decisions. But if it thinks that you may lack capacity, it should carry out a capacity assessment relating to the decisions to be made.

If you lack capacity to make care planning decisions, then you may be supported by an appropriate person like a:

  • family member
  • carer
  • friend.

If you don't have someone to support you, the local authority should appoint an independent advocate to assist, support and represent you.

What will my care and support plan cover?

Your care and support plan should set out:

  • what your needs are
  • how your needs will be met
  • how the plan will help you achieve your needs and wishes.

Someone from the local authority will work with you to prepare it.

The laws of England and Wales are slightly different on what care and support plans must cover.

If you're in England, your care and support plan will set out:

  • what your needs are
  • which of these are eligible needs
  • which needs the local authority will meet and how they will meet them
  • how the care and support provided will help your wellbeing, and help you achieve the outcomes you want to achieve
  • information about which of your needs are met by a carer, and if he or she is able and willing to continue to meet those needs
  • information about your personal budget
  • advice and information about reducing your needs or preventing them from developing in the future
  • information about direct payments, if this is how some or all of your care and support is going to be provided.

If you're in Wales, your care and support plan will set out:

  • what your eligible needs are
  • what your personal outcomes are
  • what the local authority will do to meet your needs and help you achieve your personal outcomes
  • how the local authority will monitor how you're achieving your personal outcomes
  • the arrangements for reviewing the plan
  • information about direct payments, if this is how some or all of your care and support is going to be provided.

The law says that there must be a named individual to coordinate how the plan is going to be prepared, completed, reviewed, delivered and revised.

Can my care and support plan be connected to other plans?

Yes. If appropriate, care and support plans can be combined with plans for other people or plans provided by different organisations. So, for example, you may have plans that relate to your healthcare, such as under the Care Programme Approach (CPA) or Care and Treatment Planning (CTP). Or there may be plans involving other people, such as another member of your household or your carer, that are relevant to your care and support.

Combining your care and support plan with other plans may reduce duplication of work, but it's important that there is clarity. At the start of the care and support planning process, the local authority should check whether you have plans with other agencies. If there is a combined plan, one organisation should take the lead on monitoring your plan and you should be given the name of a lead professional to be your point of contact.

Will my care and support plan be reviewed?

Yes – your needs may change over time, so it's essential that your plan is kept under review and changed if necessary. However, reviews of your care and support plan should not be used as a way to make cuts to services provided to you.

The purpose of reviewing your plans is to:

  • monitor progress and changes
  • consider how the care and support plan is meeting your needs and allowing you to achieve your personal outcomes
  • keep your plan up to date
  • determine what, if any, services might be needed in the future.

When will my plan be reviewed?

Your care and support plan should be reviewed:

  • 12 months from when it was first set up, and
  • every 12 months after that.

However, it might be reviewed more frequently if:

  • you have few friends or family members supporting you
  • your circumstances change, for example if your condition worsens
  • there are problems with the delivery of your care and support, such as a care worker providing poor care and support or a change in a care provider.

You have the right to request a review of your care and support plan. If your request is reasonable, the local authority should carry out the review within a reasonable time.

There must be a review if your care and support plan is going to be closed.

How is a review carried out?

The way the review is carried out should be agreed with you and should be appropriate to your circumstances. It can be carried out in a number of ways:

  • Self-review. This is when you review your own care and support plan and submit it to the local authority for them to sign off. This method is generally only appropriate if you have a stable, longstanding support package with fixed or long-term outcomes.
  • Peer-led review. This includes, for example, a group of friends or family helping you review your plan.
  • Review from a distance. This could be by phone or online.
  • Face-to-face review. This is where you sit down with your social worker and go through your plan.

The local authority must involve you when carrying out the review. If you'll have difficulty involving yourself in the review process, then the local authority should appoint an independent advocate for you. It should also involve:

  • your carer
  • your family
  • anyone else you request, if that is appropriate and what you want.

What will the review focus on?

The review should focus on matters such as:

  • Have your circumstances or needs changed?
  • What is working in the plan? What isn't working? What may need to change?
  • Have the outcomes set out in the plan been achieved?
  • Do you have new outcomes you want to achieve?
  • Could improvements be made to achieve better outcomes?
  • Is your personal budget appropriate and appropriately managed (England only)?
  • Are there changes to your support network?
  • Are you at risk of neglect or abuse?
  • Are you (and your carer, and your advocate if you have one) satisfied with the plan?

What happens after the review?

If there are no changes needed, then your care and support plan will continue as before.

Your plan will be revised if there is a need to make changes to it. These may be minor or may involve considerable changes. When revising your care and support plan, the local authority will look at the same issues as it would when it assesses your needs.

You must be involved in any decision to revise your care and support plan, as should your carer and family if this is what you want. The local authority should provide you with an advocate if you have difficulty being involved in the process.

This information was published in February 2018. We will revise it in 2021.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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