Helen from our Policy and Campaigns team explains what the new Care Act could mean for people with mental health problems.
Today, millions of people across the UK find out if they are likely to get social care next year. The Care Act - which recently got Royal Assent - introduces new rules that will make social care more personalised, fairer across the country and more supportive for carers.
I’ve been working on the Care Act for a couple of years now and generally speaking I think these new rules will make social care better, not worse. At Mind we’ve been working in coalition with over 70 other charities, through the Care and Support Alliance. Together we’ve been campaigning to make the new laws even better and we’ve had some big successes. In particular, the new Care Act now includes a right to advocacy for people who need more support navigating the system and articulating their needs – something that will help more people with mental health problems to get access to the right services and support.
However, there’s little point making a perfect system in theory if the people who need it aren’t allowed in.
At the moment, each local council sets their own threshold for accessing social care in their area; that’s how high someone’s needs have to be before they can get support with things like washing and dressing, managing bills or looking after their children. In many councils this threshold has been getting higher because of cuts to funding, and fewer people have been getting support.
We shared some research recently that found 30,000 people with mental health problems who would have been given support in 2005 are no longer able to access social care services. That’s 30,000 people who, less than ten years ago, would have been supported and who now have to cope on their own.
I’ll be writing Mind’s response, setting out what we think needs to be changed
The new Care Act introduces a single, national threshold to accessing care and support right across England. In theory this is a good thing; it’s not fair that people in one part of the country get access to services that others don’t, or that your level of care might have to change when you move house. However, today the Government published the legal details that set out where that threshold is going to be set, and we don't think think it's a fair level.
It’s true that we’re in a difficult financial situation, but investing in social care services to help people before they become more severely unwell will save costs further down the line, as well as allowing people with mental health problems, physical disabilities and other conditions the chance to live the independent lives that we all have a right to.
Here's where you can do something about it...
The legal detail that was published today isn’t the final version, it’s the Department of Health’s suggestion for what the rules might look like when they come into force next April. It also comes with all of the details about other bits of the bill (like aftercare for people who have been detained or advocacy) and the Government want to know what we (and you) think.
I’ll be writing Mind’s response, setting out what we think needs to be changed to make sure that people with mental health problems get fair access to care and support, but I need your help.
There are three things that you can do:
- If you have half an hour: write your own response to the Department of Health. They would like to know about your experiences and whether the new rules work for you or those you care about. Take a look at the Government's consultation website.
- If you have five minutes: take our survey to let me know about your experiences of using social care. This will help to shape our response to the Government
- If you have thirty seconds: sign up to be a Mind campaigner so we can keep you updated about how we get on with the campaign.
Thanks for your help. We’ve made a lot of progress so far, but there’s a long way left to go. With your help we can make sure the needs of people with mental health problems are not forgotten.