A number of carers have contacted us as they are worried about the new Coronavirus Act 2020. This Act removes or reduces the statutory duties contained in the Care Act 2014 which require local authorities such as Hertfordshire County Council to undertake needs assessments and provide support and replaces them with powers to meet need.
Whilst we realise that the coronavirus pandemic has already resulted in emergency measures we will continue to speak up for carers and for the people they care for. Accordingly, we contacted Iain MacBeath, Director of Adult Social Services at Hertfordshire County Council, to ask for his view on how this Act might impact on social care in Hertfordshire and this is what he told us:
1. The legislation is permissive and we do believe the Care Act 2014 is great legislation – our Connected Lives model is based on it - see the Connected Lives document via this link.
2. Our commitment will be to carry on ‘business as usual’ with the Care Act for as long as possible.
3. If we do make any changes to the way we work as a council we’ll be transparent about that – and it will be for the shortest period.
4. The guidance states that a decision to reduce, restrict or cancel services must be agreed jointly by myself as Director of Social Services (Iain MacBeath) and the Principal Social Worker (Tanya Moore) and we must then have a conversation with the lead member (Councillor Richard Roberts, Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services).
5. If we have to suggest changes to people’s care and support temporarily because of staff shortages, it will be in negotiation with those people. Our guidance to staff once invoked still has Connected Lives at its heart .
6. We will want to be as flexible as possible with care companies and direct payment employers and I have written to them to this effect.
7. When we return to a level of normality, we’ll seek to reset things back to Care Act compliance as soon as we can.
If you or the person you care for live in Hertfordshire and you have a query related to adult social care services please call 0300 123 4042 and for Children’s Services call 0300 123 4043.
There is also more information about social care support and services on the Hertfordshire County Council website via this link - FAQs around social care provision.