The Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to meet an individual’s eligible needs for care and support. If a person is assessed as being eligible for care and support from their local authority, they must be provided with a care plan to help decide the best way to meet their needs. People may choose to take a direct payment with which to purchase their own care and support, or they may wish to receive services arranged by their local authority, or a combination of both.
It is important that people are enabled to be flexible to choose care and support from a diverse range of sources. This may include registered care providers but also “non-service” options, such as information and communication technologies and personal assistants. Providers of adult social care must register with the national regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is responsible for regulating the quality and safety of services. However, non-care services, including personal assistance services, are not required to register with the CQC.
Statutory guidance issued under the Care Act makes it clear that local authorities should provide people with appropriate advice concerning their use of direct payments, including how they differ from traditional services and provide helpful information such as the difference between purchasing regulated and unregulated services, for example, personal assistants, to help people make fully informed decisions on how best to meet their needs.