Free webinar on Care Act: rhetoric vs. reality, 25 Jan 2021

I hope this is the right forum to post. I have only just seen that Doughty Street Chambers (barristers’ chambers) have a free webinar this evening on the Care Act Towards a brighter future? Here is the eventbrite link to join:

Date 25.1.21, time 18.00 to 19.30 GMT

About this Event

A gulf has grown between the rhetoric in the Care Act and people’s lived experience of social care: our panel will address the reasons for this and possible solutions, including reforms to the law, policy and practice of social care.

The Care Act 2014 marked a watershed in the law governing social care, heralding a person-centred future, with care and support focused on generating the conditions for human flourishing and wellbeing. Yet in the intervening years a gulf has grown between the fine rhetoric in the Act and people’s lived experience of social care.

A great deal of this can be put down to the inadequacy of resources available to local government, a consequence of years of under-investment, supercharged by a decade of austerity. Governments for the past quarter century have failed to honour commitments to find a way to sustainably fund social care. The Coronavirus Act 2020 permitted local authorities to enact ‘Care Act easements’, essentially suspending their legal duties under the Act save where these breached the Human Rights Act 1998. While very few did so explicitly, there is much evidence that many who draw on social care to live their lives have found their support disrupted, cut back or suspended.

But money isn’t the only issue. At the heart of the Act lies the principle that individuals should be able to exert choice and control over their lives and hence over where and with who they live, who supports them and how, and over day-to-day life, reflecting the right expressed in Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – living independently and being included in the community. While resource-scarcity clearly impinges in the enjoyment of this right, it is also clear that the attitudes and practices of different local authorities play a significant role in determining whether this power-shift happens in practice. For example, during the first lockdown of 2020 some local authorities relaxed rules to enable flexibility in the use of direct payments, while others tightened them.

How might imaginative strategic litigation help close the Care Act rhetoric-reality gap? How can the law be used to secure the rights of individuals whilst also exerting pressure on local and national government to make good the aims of this important piece of legislation? And how might it expose inadequacies in the law that demand further reform?

This seminar will explore these questions with contributions from:

Jamie Burton (chair), Head of Community Care and Health Team, Doughty Street Chambers

Head of Chamber’s Community Care and Health Team, Jamie is a leading authority on health and social care, homelessness, the Care Act 2014 and the rights of disabled people, children and migrants. He is an expert in judicial review and regularly appears in the higher courts, including the Supreme Court.

Julie Stansfield, In Control

Julie is a founder member and chief executive of In Control Partnerships. In Control instigated self-directed support and the personalisation agenda in health and social care policy and practice. This enabled people with disabilities and their families to be more in control of their health and social care provision. Julie has over 30 years’ experience in the health and social care sectors and is rooted in her passion for inclusion and enabling people to have the support they need to lead an ordinary life. She is one of the convenors of #socialcarefuture and one of the founders of the Be Human movement.

Neil Crowther #socialcarefuture

Neil is a co-convener of #socialcarefuture, a movement pursuing a future in which we are all able to live in the place we call home, be with the people and things that we love, doing what matters to us in communities where we all look out for one another. He is also an independent consultant, leading research, policy, strategy & communications work to bring about social change. His primary focus is on the rights of disabled people. He is currently leading research into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on disabled people across Europe.

Mitch Woolf, solicitor Scott Moncrieff

Mitchell Woolf specialises in human rights law and, in particular, the rights of the child and people with disabilities. He brings community care and public law challenges against state bodies such as local authorities, health trusts and government departments. He brings challenges on behalf of vulnerable children and adults, including children with disabilities, children in care and in detention and adults with disabilities/learning disabilities. He also challenges breaches of the Human Rights Act.

Thanks for this. Will try and watch.

Good - I don’t think I’ll make it but it sounds promising.

I have registered for it though.

I listened to most of this webinar until the cat started pestering me 15 minutes from the end. This is a rough list of what I picked up:

There was a lot of agreement on the current problems. The Care Act 2014 was very much welcomed, but it isn’t really being put into practice. For example, there are many cases where the Act provides for people to consult with and agree with the local council. But many people don’t know what their rights are (surprise surprise).
The speakers would like to establish a national mediation system of some sort. There are cases where a problem with the council/social security arises and then the complaint may be sent to SS and they don’t even reply, or there is miscommunication etc. and the only solution for the individual service user seems to be to get a solicitor and take legal action. But there should be some kind of mediation beforehand, and that is not working - the situation escalates.

(I’m just recording what I take in - I am out of touch with the difficulties in the system as my caree died a few years ago).

Some problems existed before Covid and it seems almost convenient for social services/NHS to say: we can’t do this because of Covid.

There is an organisation called socialcarefuture - more at which aims to improve the situation. It’s slogan is ‘We all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing things that matter to us’.

The first speaker had a slide comparing their approach twith the current public story:
Our approach is having a life vs. the current public story is: being kept alive
Caring about & supporting each other vs. Looking after ‘our most vulnerable’
People with gifts and potential vs. people with needs
The growing value of great care & support vs. The growing cost of life & limb care
Investment of resources vs. spending
We all can play a role vs. Only central government can fix this
Opportunity vs. Crisis

There was reference to Article 19 of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which applies but has not yet been implemented in UK law. This is about living independently and being part of the community:

Another site to look at is - (Our dream is for all organisations to be more hhuman) I didn’t really follow this, but it’s possible to contribute to it.

Oh thank you Greta for taking the time to post a synopsis. I will read it in chunks.