EXTRA duties for councils to help people to live independently for longer and provide more support to carers have come into effect.
Hartlepool Borough Council has been allocated just over £750,000 for the new financial year for its new responsibilities under the Care Act.
We support lots of carers but there could be more out there who come forward as a result of these changes being introduced.Jill Harrison, assistant director of adult services
The act means that from this month councils must provide or arrange the provision of services which help prevent or delay individuals or carers requiring care and support.
Deferred payments for care must also be offered to people as well as a focus on offering advice.
They will allow people to receive residential care in a home while they are waiting for their own property to be sold.
The council also has a duty to carry out assessments for all carers who now have the same legal rights as the people they care for.
Independent advocates to support people through key processes like care planning, will also be guaranteed.
Jill Harrison, Hartlepool council’s assistant director of adult services, said: “A lot of the elements of the Care Act are new and it is about bringing them together and having a stronger focus on wellbeing.
“It is about working with providers to make sure there are a wide range of services available to meet people’s needs.”
But Ms Harrison added: “There are still a lot of unknowns in relation to the act.
“We may see lots of carers coming forward and asking for assessments and support that we aren’t currently involved with.
“We support lots of carers but there could be more out there who come forward as a result of these changes being introduced.”
Hartlepool’s funding breakdown includes £116,000 for additional support for carers, £155,000 to cover the expected cost of deferred payments and £217,000 for assessments.
And £266,000 is being provided as part of the Better Care Fund.
But Ms Harrison said: “We are not sure at this stage whether the allocation will be sufficient to cope with the extra demand.
“We will need to continue monitoring this on an ongoing basis.”
The act will also bring major reforms on how people pay towards their care from April 2016 including a new cap on how much people will have to pay towards their care.
It will be set at £72,000 over a person’s lifetime.
It will also introduce care accounts for people who self-fund their care and extended means tests.
Leaflets about the new act were sent to 3,808 households in Hartlepool in February.