Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID 19): guidance on changes to social care assessments

Published: 8 Apr 2020

Statutory guidance for local authorities on sections 16 and 17 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

25 page PDF

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25 page PDF

636.4 kB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID 19): guidance on changes to social care assessments
2. What the Social Care Provisions in the 2020 Act Do

25 page PDF

636.4 kB

2. What the Social Care Provisions in the 2020 Act Do

2.1 How sections 16 and 17 of the 2020 act ease assessment duties

Sections 16 and 17 of the 2020 Act allow for an easing of social care assessment duties in relation to adult social care, carer support and children's services. They allow local authorities to dispense with particular assessment duties where complying would not be practical or would cause unnecessary delay in providing support to any person.

Section 16 allows for temporary relaxation of Local Authorities duties in relation to:

  • needs assessments for any relevant person under section 12A of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968,
  • assessments for children under section 23 and 29 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995,
  • section 1 of the Social Care (Self-directed Support)(Scotland) Act 2013; and
  • preparation of adult carer support plans/young carer statements under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.

This will give Local Authorities the discretion to dispense with these duties in order to provide services and support for those most in urgent need without delay. It allows Local Authorities to decide not to conduct a full assessment or prepare an adult carer support plan/young carer statement where this would be impractical or cause undesirable delay of the provision of care and support to any person.

Section 17 provides for statutory guidance on the provisions. It restricts charging for services provided in the absence of a full needs assessment. It also makes provision for any court proceedings that may arise due to a delay caused by a backlog of assessments.

2.2 How this affects the existing law

2.2.1 Adult Social Care (including AWI and services for people with a mental disorder)

Section 12 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 ("the 1968 Act") gives local authorities a core duty to provide care and support to people in need of assistance. Sections 25 to 27 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 ("the 2003 Act") give local authorities duties to provide services to people with a mental disorder who are not in hospital.

Section 12A of the 1968 Act currently places a duty on all Local Authorities to carry out needs assessments for all relevant persons. When doing this, Authorities must also comply with the principles in section 1 of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) Act 2013 ("the 2013 Act").These duties apply to people covered by section 12 of the 1968 Act and people covered by sections 25 to 27 of the 2003 Act. This includes adults who lack capacity under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.

Section 16 of the 2020 Act amends the assessment duties for adult social care. While it is in force it will give Local Authorities the option to dispense with their assessment duties under section 12A of the 1968 Act, and accordingly the principles under section 1 of the 2013 Act insofar as they relate to their duties under Part 2 of the 1968 Act. Local Authorities will only have this option to disregard duties to the extent that it is not practical to comply with them or would cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support.

The duty to provide support under section 12 of the 1968 Act and the duties under sections 25 to 27 of the 2003 Act will remain in place.

2.2.1.1 Adults with Incapacity

The provisions to ease duties under section 16 and 17 of the 2020 Act also apply to people who may lack capacity but have not previously been assessed as such. The separate duties under the 2003 Act are not affected by the 2020 Act but are amended by the separate Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. The provisions in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 relating to section 13ZA of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 will require Ministerial approval to invoke and will only be used in extremis. There is further guidance provided below at 2.3.2.1. on adults who lack capacity.

2.2.1.2 Adult Support and Protection

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (ASPA) places statutory duties on a number of statutory organisations. The 2020 Act does not change or affect the duties under ASPA. Assessments will need to clearly consider how contraction of Covid-19 may create a physical infirmity in terms of Section 3 of ASPA and/or how self-isolation may create new situations of risk for adults, which impact upon their ability to safeguard their wellbeing, property, rights or other interests. The ASPA principles still apply and the Covid 19 Ethical framework for social care should also be considered especially where Section 3 is not satisfied. All those providing support must ensure that staff, including volunteers, are briefed in recognising harm, abuse or neglect in order that they can trigger necessary assessments under ASPA.

2.2.2 Children's Services

Section 22(1) as read with section 23(1) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 ("the 1995 Act") provides a duty on Local Authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, in particular, by providing services in relation to children and their families affected by disability. Local Authorities currently have a duty to carry out an assessment for that purpose under section 23(3) of the 1995 Act. When doing this, Authorities must also comply with the principles in section 1 of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) Act 2013 ("the 2013 Act").

Sections 29(1) and (2) of the 1995 Act provide duties on Local Authorities to provide after-care (in the form of advice, guidance and assistance) to young persons, for example, those who were formerly looked after. Local Authorities currently have a duty to carry out an assessment for that purpose under section 29(5) of the 1995 Act.

Section 16 of the 2020 Act amends the assessment duties under sections 23(3) and 29(5) of the 1995 Act. While it is in force it will give Local Authorities the option to dispense with their assessment duties under these sections of the 1995 Act, and accordingly the principles under section 1 of the 2013 Act. Local Authorities will only have this option to disregard duties to the extent that it is not practical to comply with them or will cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support.

The 2020 Act does not affect the duties on Local Authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need under section 22 and to provide aftercare services under section 29 of the 1995 Act. These duties will remain in place while section 16 is in force.

2.2.3 Carer Support (adult carers and young carers)

Section 24 of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 ("the 2016 Act") provides a duty on Local Authorities to provide support to adult carers and young carers. Local authorities currently have a duty to prepare an adult carer support plan under section 6 of the 2016 Act. Similarly, Local Authorities are currently under a duty to prepare a young carer statement under section 12 of the 2016 Act. When doing this, Authorities must also comply with the principles in section 1 of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) Act 2013 ("the 2013 Act").

Section 16 of the 2020 Act amends both the duties under section 6 and 12. While it is in force it will give Local Authorities the option to dispense with their duties under these sections, and accordingly the principles under section 1 of the 2013 Act as they apply to carers. Local Authorities will only have this option to disregard duties to the extent that it is not practical to comply with them or will cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support.

The duty to provide support to carers under section 24 will remain while section 16 is in force, however rather than refer to "identified needs", this has been amended to refer to the carers needs for support in order to enable the carer to provide or continue to provide care for a cared-for person.

2.2.4 Charging

Section 87 of the 1968 Act currently allows Local Authorities to charge for certain services to adults and children.

Section 17 of the 2020 Act prevents Local Authorities from charging for services under section 87 if these were provided without complying with the full assessment duties. Local Authorities will be allowed to retrospectively charge for those who become permanent residents in residential care during the emergency period.

2.3 What this means in practice

2.3.1 Impact on Assessments

When section 16 is in force, Local Authorities are not required to carry out full assessments (including adult carer support plans and young carer statements) to the extent that it is deemed impractical or will cause unnecessary delay in the provision of care to do so.

2.3.2 Adult Social Care

When section 16 is "switched on", this will allow Local Authorities to dispense with the duty to conduct a needs assessment to the extent the authority considers that it would be impractical to comply or that it would cause unnecessary delay to the provision of services to any person.

This allows for a partial assessment, acknowledging that some form of analysis of a person's situation will still need to happen so that the most effective response can be delivered to support the person at their time of need.

The key duties to provide care and support to people in need of assistance remain in place.

2.3.2.1 Adults with Incapacity and provisions in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020

As highlighted above, the existing assessment duty under section 12A of the 1968 Act covers assessments in relation to adults who may lack capacity. So the provisions to ease those duties under section 16 and 17 of the 2020 Act also apply to people who may lack capacity but have not previously been assessed as such.

It is important to note that these provisions will only affect adults who may lack capacity if the local authority has not already conducted an assessment identifying the adult is incapacitated and their needs.

In most cases local authorities will have already conducted an assessment, identified that the adult lacks capacity and in the absence of an attorney with welfare powers, put in place an application for a court order under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000, such as a guardianship or intervention order. In these cases adults lacking capacity will be able to be moved using s.13za of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 as amended by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. Separate guidance for this will accompany the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020.

2.3.2.2 Adult Support and Protection

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (ASPA) places statutory duties on a number of statutory organisations and in turn, this places expectations and contractual obligations on many service providers.

Adult Support and Protection remains a statutory duty of councils, health boards, police and others to support and protect adults at risk of harm. The Coronavirus Act 2020 does not affect these duties, especially the identification of adults at risk of harm, subsequent inquiries, investigations or protection planning/orders and multi-agency cooperation to support these activities.

It is vital that Councils and those named in ASPA continue to offer the same level of oversight regarding these duties and their application. However, it is also important that staff are proportionate in their responses and mindful of the pressure care providers may be under.

2.3.3 Carer Support

When section 16 is "switched on", this will allow Local Authorities to dispense with the duties to prepare adult carer support plans, young carer statements or to have a conversation as the means of identifying needs. It will also allow them to dispense with their duties under section 1 of the 2013 Act.

Authorities can only choose to dispense with their duties to the extent that doing so would be impractical or cause unnecessary delay in the provision of support to any person.

This allows for preparation of a partial adult carer support plan or young carer statement, acknowledging that some form of analysis of a carer's situation will still need to happen so that the most effective response can be delivered to support the carer at their time of need.

The duty on authorities to provide carer support under section 24 remains in place. This duty and power rely on the authority understanding the carer's identified needs. Where identified needs meet local eligibility criteria, authorities have a duty to support the carer. Where identified needs do not meet local eligibility criteria, authorities still have a power to support the carer.

Section 16(5) and (6) of the 2020 Act alters the concept of "identified needs" in the 2016 Act to allow for the fact that these needs may not be being identified in conversation with the carer (in line with the flexibilities listed above). This is essentially a technical change to ensure the duty and power to provide support continue to apply. In these cases, a person's identified needs will be taken to mean: the carer's needs for support in order to enable them to provide or continue to provide care for a cared-for person.

2.3.4 Children's services

When section 16 is "switched on" this will allow Local Authorities to dispense with the duty to carry out an assessment of needs under section 23(3) of the 1995 Act as a prerequisite to any provision of services to such children and their families to the extent that doing so would be impractical or cause unnecessary delay to the provision of services to any person.

When section 16 is switched on it will also allow Local Authorities to dispense with the duty to carry out an assessment of needs under section 29(5) of the 1995 Act as a prerequisite to any provision of after-care services to such young persons if doing so would be impractical or cause unnecessary delay to the provision of services to any person.

Partial assessments as described under section 3.5.2 below can however be undertaken in relation to providing services to children. These partial assessments should be undertaken following the principles of GIRFEC and referring to the National Practice Model. The overarching priority when undertaking partial assessments is to ensure that protective and/or supportive services are provided to children and families who have the greatest need as quickly as possible.

The key duties to provide services to children under sections 22 and 29 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 will not be turned off.

2.3.4.1 Child Protection

Assessments in relation to child protection can also be undertaken using the partial assessment format described in paragraph 3.5.2. These assessments should still follow the principles outlined in the supplementary child protection guidance issued for the duration of the COVID-19 situation. The supplementary child protection guidance can be accessed here https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-supplementary-national-child-protection-guidance/

In addition to the supplementary guidance the 2014 National Child Protection Guidance provides the framework for existing local practice and procedures.

2.3.5 Charging

2.3.5.1 Support which cannot be charged for

Section 17(4) and (5) of the 2020 Act means that local authorities may not charge for the following while the assessment duties are relaxed under section 16 unless a full assessment involving the person and their family or carers has been undertaken:

  • non-residential care for adults
  • temporary residential care for adults
  • services provided to a child under section 22 of the 1995 Act
  • advice, guidance or assistance provided under section 29 of the 1995 Act

Section 17 does not refer to charging unpaid carers under the 2016 Act because existing legislation already requires authorities to waive all charges for carer support.

2.3.5.2 Support which can be charged for

Section 17(6) makes it clear that local authorities may conduct full assessments after putting care support services in place but may only charge as normal for support provided after a full assessment is done. Any element of personal care must be provided without charge as normal and local processes should be followed.

For charges that are applied following a full assessment, for those receiving social care services at home, local authorities should refer to the COSLA National Strategy & Guidance, Charges Applying to Non-residential Social Care Services.

Charges already in place for people who have previously gone through a full assessment can remain in place.

This ensures that people will only be charged where they have had the benefit of a full assessment which would include a financial income maximisation assessment.

In the event that people with temporary care plans refuse full assessment because it means they will be liable to charges, local authorities are advised to have a clear protocol to ensure a fair and consistent approach.

2.3.5.3 Charging for Permanent Residential Care

Section 17(7) to (9) allow retrospective charging for individuals who become permanent care home residents without a full assessment and who later have a full assessment. Charging may be backdated to the date when the person became a permanent resident (ie, where accommodation is expected to last more than 52 weeks). Any element of personal and/or nursing care should be treated in the normal way with the local authorities paying the service provider directly for that care. Again local processes should be followed.

Where a full assessment takes place and the person is appropriately involved, the local authority may charge in accordance with the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidance.

2.4 Once the emergency provisions are switched off

Once section 16 is switched off, the usual duties to carry out assessments will switch back on again.

For adult social care, that means the duties to assess under section 12A of the 1968 Act and section 1 of the SDS Act will switch back on.

For carer support, that means the duties to offer and prepare adult carer support plans and young carer statements under the 2016 Act will switch back on and will apply to people who did not receive a full plan or statement during the emergency period.

For children's services, that means the duties to assess under sections 23 and 29 of the 1995 Act will switch back on.


Contact

Email: CHSC.COVID19HUB@gov.scot