28 August, 2014
In May 2014 the government announced the introduction of the new Care Act 2014, which is set to deliver the government's response to the Francis Inquiry which unveiled the serious failures of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. As a result of lobbying by the National Housing Foundation, social landlords and housing providers across England and Wales have been placed right at the heart of the Act through the statutory 'well-being principle'. This principle includes in its definition that the suitability of living accommodation is one of the key elements of the well-being of an individual.
From April 2015, social landlords and housing providers will have greater responsibility and participation in the consideration and planning of a person's need for support and care. This is heavily enshrined in the Act as housing is explicitly referenced as being part of local authorities and with a new duty under the multi-agency policy to promote integration of health and care, social landlords and housing providers will find themselves at the forefront of the pursuit to shape the health and social care sector.
The changes brought in by the Care Act 2014 have been widely welcomed as social landlords and housing providers have previously been shut out of key decisions during the 'No Secrets' code of practice which was introduced by the Department of Health in 2000. Instead a more robust Safeguarding policy will come into play when the Act comes into force next year. Safeguarding has been defined by the Social Care Institute for Excellence as including six key concepts; empowerment, protection, prevention, proportionate responses, partnership and accountability. The Care Act is intended to emphasise the Safeguarding policy as an important one and it does this by creating wider consequences for social landlords and housing providers and their staff.
Statutory guidance states that all providers of services in public should ensure that their staff are aware of the new multi-agency policy and procedures that have been introduced by the Care Act. Staff of social landlords and housing providers are to be made aware of what to do when they suspect or encounter abuse of adults in vulnerable situations and this should be incorporated through internal procedures, staff manuals and handbooks.
Thirty percent of publicly available case reviews concern social housing and in one particular case review in Bury it was found that a housing caseworker played a central role in working with all parties and seeking advice from colleagues in other statutory and independent sector agencies. Therefore, this clearly demonstrates that social landlords and housing providers should no longer be kept on the side lines when it comes to safeguarding and care decisions. Alongside local authorities and with the help of statutory guidance provided by the Care Act social landlords and housing providers can provide greater transparency in the care sector and help prevent reoccurrences of serious failures as found in Mid-Staffordshire Hospital.
The regulations and statutory guidance provided by the Care Act 2014 will not be finalised until October 2014, and so at this stage the extent of the impact on social housing is not wholly established. More will follow…
For further information please contact Shauna Pill.