During our most recent webinar, we were joined by West Sussex County Council to discuss the new social care cap that is coming into play across England in October 2023. For local authorities looking to implement new systems and technologies ahead of the cap, it's important to factor in the time that this takes. Read on to discover insights from the session, the timelines we're working towards with our local authority customers, and how Imosphere can help you meet the challenges of the reforms.
Key challenges for the sector
In order to manage demand, it’s recommended that local authorities conduct needs and financial assessments for people who are funding their own care from April 2023 – six months ahead of when the care cap officially commences.
The guidance also states that these assessments need to adhere to the existing Care Act statutory guidance, as well as being proportionate to need. On top of this, councils must offer self-supported needs assessments and light-touch financial assessments where appropriate. Those with eligible needs with assets above the new upper capital limit who are funding care themselves will then receive an Independent Personal Budget (IPB) within a care account.
In the case of self-assessment, we are seeing some local authorities who intend to create a process for verifying and checking self-assessments, including verifying that IPB figures are an accurate and complete reflection of an individual’s needs, that their outcomes can be met, and that there has been consideration of the impact on their well-being. Other local authorities are considering various levels of process automation – which could result in citizens undertaking an assessment, eligibility determination and IPB calculation process from end-to-end without interacting with anyone from the local authority at any point. It is therefore important that any self-assessment and IPB calculation solution is flexible enough to fit around different local processes as well as dealing with the expected demand.
West Sussex: Formulate in practice
Deborah Robinson, Adults Service Improvement Lead at West Sussex County Council, spoke about how the local authority is currently implementing our Strengths-based Toolset within our Formulate product ahead of the October 2023 deadline, to support its strengths-based approach to adult social care.
To deal with the rise in assessments, West Sussex was looking for a solution to support its continued journey to good social work practice. The solution needed to demonstrate fair, consistent and transparent funding for everyone with long-term needs. Data was also an important element to consider, including learning from other local authorities and sharing best practice from using the same system. Deborah Robinson said:
“We’ve chosen Formulate, which means that we should have an open transparent resource allocation system. It also gives reassurance and speed to social workers because they have a tool where they can demonstrate transparency to customers.”
Technology will be a vital vehicle for helping councils like West Sussex to service those individuals who will be self-funding their care, as Deborah explains:
“The move to looking after self-funders is going to be a real challenge. We know we’ve got 60% of self-funders completely hidden from us, at least. We have estimated it will be an increase of about 10,000 extra assessments a year for this authority”.
Following in the footsteps of trailblazer Cheshire East
We have already started working closely with Cheshire East Council to help define the tools and processes that will be used to support the upcoming social care reform. This is likely to follow a three-step journey - starting with a pre-screening advice stage, followed by supported self-assessment and then finally, the questions that will inform the IPB funding calculation. To ensure the Council is prepared in advance of the cap in October 2023, it has an initial roll-out stage planned in September 2022 for early assessments, with this continuing in January 2023 to review and update in line with any feedback – and to introduce IPBs and Care Accounts.
With the October 2023 care cap deadline looming and local authorities expected to start processing assessments for self-funders in just under 9-months, Imosphere is well placed to assist with the preparation. For over 10 years, we have worked with multiple local authorities to develop tools which facilitate a fair and consistent approach to resource allocation. Formulate is based around a strength-based assessment already proven to be effective. Not only does it empower individuals to capture their needs in the most straightforward way possible, it is flexible enough to be adapted for a local IT system and processes – get in touch today to find out more, or request a copy of the full webinar recording.