September 2020: This chapter has been amended to reflect changes in the Care Act Easements guidance. This includes reference to advocates, introduce the Care Act easements notification form and reflect changes to other published guidance.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Purpose of the Easements
- 3. What the Powers Actually Change
- 4. Protections and Safeguards
- 5. Principles to Govern Use of the Powers
- 6. Steps Local Authorities should take before Exercising the Care Act easements
- 7. Interaction with other Changes
- 8. Oversight
- Annex A: Local Decision-Making relating to the Easements
- Annex B: Guidance on Streamlining Assessments and Reviews
- Annex C: Prioritisation Process
- Annex D: Safeguarding Guidance
- Annex E: Coronavirus Act 2020 Explanatory Notes
This guidance sets out how local authorities can use the new Care Act easements, created under the Coronavirus Act 2020 , to ensure the best possible care for people during this exceptional period (see Coronavirus Act 2020 chapter).
The easements took legal effect on 31 March 2020; they should only be exercised by local authorities where this is essential in order to maintain the highest possible level of services. They should comply with the pre-amendment Care Act provisions and related Care and Support Statutory Guidance for as long and as far as possible.
They are temporary. The Secretary of State will keep them under review and terminate them, on expert clinical and social care advice, as soon as possible.
2. Purpose of the Easements
Local authorities and care providers are facing rapidly growing pressures as more people need support because unpaid carers are unwell, and care workers are having to self-isolate or unable to work for other reasons.
The Government has put in place a range of measures to help the care system manage these pressures. Local authorities should do everything they can to continue meeting their existing duties prior to the Coronavirus Act provisions coming into force.
In the event they are unable to do so, it is essential that they are able to streamline present assessment arrangements and prioritise care so that the most urgent and acute needs are met. The Care Act easements set out how local authorities should prioritise where necessary due to the emergency.
They are time-limited and are there to be used as narrowly as possible.
3. What the Powers Actually Change
The changes fall into four key categories, each applicable for the period the powers are in force:
Local authorities will not have to carry out detailed assessments of people’s care and support needs in compliance with Care Act requirements. They will still be expected to respond to:
- requests for care and support;
- consider the needs and wishes of people needing care and their family and carers and involving advocates where relevant;
- make an assessment of what care needs to be provided.
They should respond within a timeframe that would not breach individual’s human rights)
3.2 Financial assessment
Local authorities will not have to carry out financial assessments in compliance with Care Act requirements. They will, however, have powers to charge people retrospectively for the care and support they receive during this period. In order to do this they will need to ensure that people are informed of this in advance. This will ensure fairness between people already receiving care and support before this period, and people entering the care and support system during this period. Advocates should be involved, where relevant. See Annex B, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities
3.3 Review of Care and Support Plans
Local authorities will not have to review care and support plans in line with Care Act provisions. They will still be expected to carry out proportionate, person-centred care planning to provide enough information to all concerned, particularly those providing care and support and involving advocates where relevant, especially as care may need to be provided at very at short notice during the emergency.
If care plans need to be revised, people who use services, advocates and carers must continue to be involved. See Annex B, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities.
See also Eligibility chapter
The Care Act places a duty on local authorities to meet eligible care and support needs, or the support needs of a carer. The Easements replace this duty with a power to meet needs.
This means that local authorities will still be expected to take all reasonable steps to continue to meet needs as now, but in the event that they are unable to do so, the powers will enable them to prioritise the most pressing needs, for example enhanced support for people who are ill or self-isolating, and to temporarily delay or reduce other care provision. Annex C provides further guidance about the principles and approaches which should underpin this.
4. Protections and Safeguards
- Telephone and Video Hearings during Coronavirus Outbreak (HM Courts and Tribunals Service)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Office of Public Guardian Response ( Office of the Public Guardian)
The purpose of the easements is to ensure the best possible provision of care to vulnerable people in these exceptional circumstances.
In order to make sure that the easements are applied in the best possible way, with regard towards the needs and wishes of care users and their carers, the following protections and safeguards will apply.
- Assessment: All assessments and reviews that are delayed or not completed will be followed up and completed in full once the easements are terminated.
- Human rights: Local authorities will remain under a duty to meet needs where failure to do so would breach an individual’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. These include, for example, the right to life under Article 2 of the ECHR, the right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3 and the right to private and family life under Article 8.
- Inspection: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will continue to provide oversight of providers under existing legislation. Throughout this period the CQC will take a pragmatic approach to inspection and proportionate action as necessary while maintaining its overriding purpose of keeping people safe. See Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information (CQC).
Other important duties on local authorities remain in place:
- Wellbeing: Duties in the Care Act to promote wellbeing remain in place. See Annex D, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities and Promoting Wellbeing chapter.
- Safeguarding: Duties in the Care Act relating to safeguarding adults at risk remain in place. See Annex D, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities and Adult Safeguarding chapter.
- Mental Capacity: Duties in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 relating to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) remain in place. Guidance on the operation of DoLS during this period will be published separately (see Mental Capacity and Code of Practice and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards chapters).
- Prevention, Advice and Information: Local authorities’ duties relating to prevention and providing information and advice also remain in place. The provision of information and advice for public reassurance will be particularly important during this period. To aid good communications, local authorities should continue to draw on relationships with trusted partners in the voluntary sector as well as on a full range of digital and other channels which help reach people with differing needs and in different circumstances during this period (for example to make up for the closure of libraries). See also Preventing, Reducing or Delaying Needs and Information and Advice chapters.
- Equalities: Duties imposed under the Equality Act 2010 also remain, including duties to make reasonable adjustments, the Public Sector Equality Duty and duties towards people with protected characteristics. These should underpin any decisions made with regard to the care and support someone receives during this period. See also Equality, Diversity and Human Rights chapter.
5. Principles to Govern Use of the Powers
The Care Act 2014 embodies a principled, person-centred and values-based approach to all aspects of the provision of social care. It is essential that these principles and values are maintained during this period.
Local authorities will be expected to observe the Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care. This provides a structure for local authorities to measure their decisions against and reinforces that the needs and wellbeing of individuals should be central to decision-making. In particular, it should underpin challenging decisions about the prioritisation of resources where they are most needed.
Alongside the framework, local authorities should continue to respect the principles of personalisation and co-production. These are embodied in the following statement produced with the support of Think Local, Act Personal (TLAP):
I am supported to make decisions by people who see things from my point of view, with concern for what matters to me, my wellbeing and health. (Making it Real)
The UK is in unprecedented times with its citizens facing significant uncertainty. This is especially true for people who receive social care support or who care for people with support needs.
However, the fundamental principles of personalisation and co-production underpinning the Care Act should not be removed as a result of emergency guidance and key statements set out in the Making it Real framework ought to be viewed as immovable.
Working together matters now more now than ever. Genuine co-production will ensure the best possible decision making and the best possible outcomes for both citizens and the workforce. This is critical if we are to save time and prevent costly mistakes. This will require the local authority to respond flexibly in spite of pressure to respond – at pace and scale – to increasing demand.
The Government expects and trusts that local authorities will adhere to the principle of co-production and continue to view those in receipt of support or carers providing support, as equal partners. People continue to be experts in their own care and support whatever the circumstances. Now is the time to reinforce co-production, not dispense with it.
6. Steps Local Authorities should take before Exercising the Care Act easements
A local authority should only take a decision to begin exercising the Care Act easements when:
- the workforce is significantly depleted; or
- demand on social care increased.
This should only be when it is no longer reasonably practicable for it to comply with its Care Act duties (as they stand prior to being changed by the Coronavirus Act) and where to continue to try to do so is likely to result in urgent or acute needs not being met, potentially risking life.
Any change resulting from such a decision should be proportionate to the particular circumstances in the local authority. Social care varies greatly across local authorities and the decision to operate the easements should be taken locally.
It should be agreed by the Director of Adult Social Services in conjunction with or on the recommendation of the Principal Social Worker. The Director of Adult Social Services and the Principal Social Worker must ensure that their lead member has been involved and briefed as part of this decision-making process. The Health and Wellbeing Board should be kept informed. The decision should also be fully informed by discussion with the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) leadership.
The local authority should have a record of the decision with evidence that was taken into account. Where possible the record should include:
- the nature of the changes to demand or the workforce;
- the steps that have been taken to mitigate against the need for this to happen;
- the expected impact of the measures taken;
- how the changes will help to avoid breaches of people’s human rights at a population level;
- the individuals involved in the decision-making process;
- the points at which this decision will be reviewed again.
This decision should be communicated to all providers, service users, carers and local MPs. The accessibility of communication to service users and carers should be considered.
Local authorities should notify the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) using the Care Act Easements Notification Form when:
- they decide to start streamlining assessments and / or prioritising services under the easements;
- the use of easements changes;
- they resume full Care Act duties.
This form should be completed and sent on each occasion to CareActEasements@dhsc.gov.uk.
Information received will be held and shared with CQC, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Local Government Association (LGA) and other relevant parties. Details of which local authorities are operating under easements will be publicly available for transparency.
7. Interaction with other Changes
The Care Act Easements guidance is to be read alongside the Hospital Discharge Service: Policy and Operating Model. This makes clear that local authorities should make provision for Care Act assessments of need, financial assessments and longer-term care planning if necessary.
From 1 September 2020, new or extended health and care support will be funded for a period of up to 6 weeks, for people being discharged from hospital, or to provide urgent care for those who would otherwise have been admitted to hospital.
Provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 allowed NHS bodies to postpone NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) assessments until the end of the emergency period. CHC assessments will resume from 1 September 2020. Guidance has been published on restarting CHC processes (see Continuing Healthcare chapter).
DHSC will keep the content of the Care Act Easements guidance and adherence to it under regular review, in discussion with local authorities, care providers, user and carer representative bodies, and the Care Quality Commission.
The guidance and the Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care fall under schedule 12 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. Schedule 12 to that Act gives the Secretary of State a power to direct Local authorities to comply with the guidance and the Ethical Framework, and the Department will keep this under review.
Annex A: Local Decision-Making relating to the Easements
See Annex A, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities for full text
The Annex sets out recommended governance and decision-making for Directors of Adult Social Services and Principal Social Workers in relation to use of the Care Act easements.
Click here also for Care Act Easements – Decision-Making Tables which outlines the four possible stages of Care Act easements for local authorities.
During this period local authorities may need to take difficult decisions that impact on the way they respond to their responsibilities for care and support and their statutory functions. There should therefore be clear professional oversight and, where relevant, professional sign-off for such decisions as well as evidence that due consideration has been given to the possible consequences.
The Coronavirus Act does not give authority to block, restrict or withdraw whole services. It enables local authorities to make and apply person-centred decisions about who is most in need of care, and who might need to have care and support temporarily reduced or withdrawn in order to make sure those with highest need are prioritised. Such decisions will in some cases be challenging, and therefore should always be made within the remit of the DHSC Ethical Framework.
These should be taken only where demand pressures and availability of staff mean that the full range of services under the Care Act can no longer be delivered.
This should be differentiated from decisions that need to be made in response to the Government’s guidance about social distancing. For example, it may be decided to close a service because it is no longer safe to keep people together in a building, however, this does not mean those people do not need the equivalent level of support at this time. In this example, staff might be asked to provide the equivalent level of support. The equivalent service might be an alternative, but it is to reduce the risk of breaching the social distancing guidance.
2. Assessments, Reviews and Changes to Care Packages
The Care Act allows local authorities to prioritise and review in differing ways. Local authorities should continue to be as flexible as possible, and ensure they stay within Government guidelines around social distancing, shielding and self-isolating.
Decisions about assessments or reviews, and decisions to either reduce or alter care packages will have an impact on the people being supported as well as their carers. Such decisions must take account of risks both current and potential should the situation change for the person and / or their carers.
Where people decide to cancel or suspend their own care and support and manage alone or with support of their own family and community networks, this will mostly be for the person to decide themselves. However, where there are concerns that this may lead to unmanageable risk or safeguarding issues, practice oversight should be applied.
This is not to undermine the views of the individual making the decisions about their care, but to ensure that where necessary, the local authority in conjunction with the individual and their family have considered the possible consequences and the principles of safeguarding have been upheld.
The Hospital Discharge Service: Policy and Operating Model already allows for a proportionate approach to Care Act duties. However, it has not removed them and local authorities should therefore continue to comply with them.
3. Deciding to apply the easements
It is important that any decisions made in relation to Care Act easements are informed by discussions with local partners, in particular local senior NHS leadership. Health and Wellbeing Boards should also be informed about a decision to start operating under the easements.
Recording by local authorities remains a priority and will them to ensure accountability and provide evidence for the thought processes behind the decisions they will be making.
See Annex A for decision making processes table for local authorities.
Annex B: Guidance on Streamlining Assessments and Reviews
See Annex B, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities for full text
1. Needs and carer assessments
See also Assessment chapter
During this period, local authorities will still be expected to consider people’s needs and the easements will only apply when it is no longer possible for them to carry out their Care Act duties in full.
The points in this section apply equally to people likely to be in need of care and support and carers likely to be in need of support.
Local authorities remain under a duty to meet needs where failure to do so would breach an individual’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. These include, for example, the right to life under Article 2 of the ECHR, the right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3 and the right to private and family life under Article 8.
However, to ensure that local authorities are able to respond to increased pressures on the social care sector due to COVID-19, for the duration of the Coronavirus Act’s provisions, local authorities may have to reduce:
- the extent of a needs or carers assessment;
- check that people’s needs are eligible;
- or conduct a financial assessment.
Local authorities should still assess people’s social care and support needs throughout this period and should make a written record of this assessment. Principal Social Workers should ensure that proportionate professional recording is maintained and may consider a single alternate document for local use.
It is crucial that local authorities are able to evidence their decision, demonstrate their professional judgement apply the Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care, and where necessary, record that they have considered the Convention Rights.
Local authorities should therefore consider whether assessments could be delivered through other means, taking into consideration people’s cognitive and communication needs and mental capacity, including:
- Use of a third party / allied professional to carry out needs assessments as trusted assessors: It would also be appropriate for adults in need of care and support, or carers who are being assessed, to ask the local authority to liaise with other people or professionals to help complete the check. Paragraph 6.99 in the Care and Support Statutory Guidance provides more information.
- Supported self-assessments: In many cases, and assuming the assessment document is in an appropriately accessible format, people, perhaps with help from family members or advocates, could complete their own assessment form. Where existing online systems are available these should reflect any new assessment document options (see paragraphs 6.3 & 6.44 in the Care and Support statutory guidance).
- Assessments using the telephone or, if possible, other technology such as video calls, if available, if people are comfortable with this, and if they can be made available at the location where people are living (see paragraph 6.3 in the Care and Support statutory guidance). Further guidance on this is provided by the NHSx.
The local authority should ensure that people are informed at the earliest opportunity that their needs may be assessed (or reassessed) in the future and that alternative services may then be arranged. It should be explained that the current situation is very unusual and that arrangements may be temporary and change when this period is over.
It will be important to explain to people that at a future point a view will be taken on whether their needs are eligible under the Care Act. This may mean that at a future date the local authority may no longer believe it is necessary to meet those needs, and that if this is the case, it will be necessary to agree alternative arrangements.
Local authorities need to ensure that there is a clear and transparent pathway for people with care and support needs, carers, advocates and providers to quickly raise concerns should they believe either the decision or the care package is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and Section 59 of the Care Act.
The easements also relieve local authorities of the duty to undertake assessments of children transitioning to adult social care. It may not be possible or necessary for assessments themselves to be face-to-face.
Complaints and escalation procedures remain the same as under the Care Act. Under the Coronavirus Act, once the emergency period has ended, if local authorities do not comply with their duty to carry out a relevant assessment within a reasonable period, action can be taken in court.
3. Care planning and delivery by providers
Care planning should be person-led, person-centred and proportionate to the complexity of individual need with paperwork, bureaucracy and process kept to a minimum, whilst ensuring adequate records are kept.
The easements mean that local authorities do not need to completed care and support plans in line with Care Act legislation.
However, local authorities do still need to provide sufficient information to potential providers to allow them to make an informed decision as to whether to accept a referral. This will also help providers in drawing up their own plan for people’s care and support. This information should be evidenced within whatever form of assessment is completed and there is a clear expectation that this information is shared with individuals, advocates and families.
The local authority should ensure that providers receive enough information to develop a care plan with the person including:
- an overview of the person’s wishes and feelings;
- and outcomes that need to be considered and achieved;
- key aspects of daily living, personal care, nutrition and hydration;
- any other medical conditions.;
- specific care needs that the provider will need to consider such as communication, mobility, and behavioural, cognitive and mental health needs;
- any safeguarding concerns and risk assessments.
Decision-making about personal budgets, including direct payments, and care plans should be kept as close to the front line as possible with minimum restraints on flexibility and innovation in how needs can be met. Restrictive administrative practice should be avoided as much as possible. See Direct Payments and Personal Budgets chapters.
4. Reviewing care and support plans
The easements relieve local authorities of the duty to revise care and support plans under s27 of the Care Act during this period.
However, subsection (2) and (3) of the Act remain in force. This means that that if care and support plans are revised during the emergency period, people who use services and their carers must be involved, in decisions about revising their care package. This may include unscheduled reviews where needs have changed.
Local authorities will have to consider how they respond to reviews where need has significantly changed alongside the Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care and the prioritisation guidance (see Annex C below). These reviews may be more important than new assessments.
Local authorities and providers should work together to agree the circumstances in which, and by how much the care package and Direct Payments can be varied without review to ease administrative burdens on the workforce. See Direct Payments chapter.
5. Financial assessment easements and retrospective charging
The easements enable local authorities to meet people’s care and support needs without a financial assessment.
Assessments can be conducted at a later date and charged made retrospectively, so long as the local authority has informed people that there may be a charge for the service in the future.
None of the fundamental principles underpinning the Care Act statutory guidance on charging and financial assessment (see paragraph 8.2 – 8.9 of the Care and Support Statutory Guidance) are removed or diluted. Therefore, if people are charged retrospectively, this should be on the basis of a financial assessment in line with the Care Act and on the basis that people should pay what they can afford, and any charges are clear and transparent.
Local authorities should always ensure there is sufficient information and advice available in suitable formats to help people understand any financial contributions they are asked to make, including signposting to sources of independent financial information and advice. This will be especially important if easements are used and will be critical to helping people understand potential future costs, particularly when they may already be anxious and needing as much reassurance as possible.
Social workers, or others providing this information, should also consider what information can be given to illustrate estimated likely charges for different options of relevant and appropriate care so that people have a good initial understanding of the type and range of costs involved. This could take the form of a table, with tailored cost information based on illustrative averages, and form part of an upfront declaration or agreement.
The existing statutory guidance (see 8.22 of the Care and Support statutory guidance) already notes that a local authority may ‘choose to treat a person as if a financial assessment had been carried’. The local authority must satisfy itself on the basis of evidence that the person can afford, and will continue to be able to afford, any charges due. This is known as a ‘light touch financial assessment’ and local authorities may wish to conduct more of these types of financial assessment where doing so helps the prioritisation of timely care and support and mitigates capacity pressures. Where appropriate / helpful, local authorities can use Department of Work and Pensions data as a quick standard assessment and follow up at a later date to look into private pensions, capital or other finances.
The emergency provisions do not change existing guidance on, for instance, complaints, deliberate deprivation of assets, administrative fees and top-ups.
Deferred payment agreements (DPAs) will still be made available for eligible people once the financial assessment is completed at a later date. DPAs do require some financial information to enable local authorities to be sure they are not taking on an unsecured risk and to place a legal charge on a person’s property. DPAs should be raised as part of routine sharing of relevant information and advice.
6. Mental capacity
Local authorities are always expected, where appropriate, to consult and engage with family members, advocates and / or someone who has legal authority to make financial decisions on behalf of people who lack capacity. This consultation and engagement should still take place as part of the financial assessment, which may be deferred until after the emergency period. Where the financial assessment is deferred in this way, it will be important as a minimum, to make people aware that there may be costs associated with the care and support provided. Individuals should be assured that no charges will be made until after a financial assessment has been completed.
The existing statutory guidance (see 8.50 of the Care and Support Statutory Guidance) makes it clear that Local Authorities are not required to charge carers for support and that, ‘in many cases it would be a false economy to do so’. Carers already play a vital role in the care and support system and their contribution during this emergency period will be even more critical. In line with existing guidance, Local authorities should therefore ‘ensure that any charges do not negatively impact on a carer’s ability to look after their own health and wellbeing and to care effectively and safely’.
Annex C: Prioritisation Process
See Annex C, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities for the full text.
Local authority adult social care (ASC) departments will be well practised in responding to emergencies, where there is an incident or provider failure that results in the need to provide rapid support. On occasion, they may have to prioritise the delivery of such support to ensure those most in need and at highest risk receive this support as a priority.
The Care Act Easements guidance must be read in conjunction with the Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care.
The current challenge that local authorities face with COVID-19 means that prioritisation may need to be considered over a longer period with rapidly changing scenarios.
The guidance has been produced to provide a helpful tool for ASC when considering how to prioritise care and support should the local authority have decided that it needs to operate under the Care Act easements.
It is vital that professional judgement and oversight is used, as the guidance will not provide answers about prioritisation in all scenarios. It aims to help delivery of care and support in a risk informed way, ensuring everyone, where possible, gets the care and support they require, but that those most in need are prioritised first.
Social care is a locally delivered and led service developed on the detailed understanding of individuals, advocates and their families, communities and cultures. Social workers, occupational therapists, and nurses form the core professional group and therefore have clear professional responsibilities and accountabilities. Local professional leaders such as Principal Social Workers and Principal Occupational Therapists will be key in ensuring this guidance is applied and understood. The skill of these professionals should be used to help develop, agree, and review locally agreed processes that would be informed by this guidance.
2. Understanding local care needs and prioritisation
Most local authorities will have mapped all existing known packages for complexity and need and should where possible have also mapped the care and support needs of those that self-fund.
It is important that mapping at this stage considers the complexity, risk and level of need within the care package and not just the current delivery. This should allow for a better understanding of the risk should there be an impact on care delivery. This includes considering unpaid carers. This will ensure local authority knowledge of an individual informs any prioritisation work needed, should the situation require it.
Local authorities may want to ‘RAG-rate’ their packages and have them split between High, Moderate and Low (or similar terminology). It is likely that many will have a mixed care package. They should note these but work on the most essential element of care for mapping purposes.
If operating under the Care Act easements, local authorities may need to prioritise packages of care and support. In the first instance local authorities would consider those care packages which are already mapped and noted as high and moderate. Prioritising individual care may be fluid, as risk and need levels may fluctuate. New information such as unpaid carer involvement or whether people have now become unwell with COVID-19 will need to be considered.
The Department does not propose to advise local areas on how to prioritise as methods of prioritisation will be unique to each area. The Department also recognises that there will already be well established methods of prioritising in most areas.
As set out in the guidance and Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care, local authorities must retain an approach to working with individuals and carers in a personalised and effective way, ensuring they are engaged in this process as much as possible.
Local authorities should take into account all elements of a person’s life that may impact on their needs and their personal circumstances. These circumstances can include social issues such as domestic abuse, financial issues, and the vital support of unpaid carers which may not be appropriate or sustainable as a single support in this current climate.
Local authorities should also understand what resources, assets / offers the person has at their disposal – including knowledge of and access to forms of community and neighbourhood support.
Annex D: Safeguarding Guidance
See Annex D, Care Act Easements: Guidance for Local Authorities for the full text.
Adult safeguarding is working with adults with care and support needs to support them to keep safe from abuse or neglect. It is an important part of what many public services do, and a statutory responsibility of local authorities.
Safeguarding adults remains a statutory duty of local authorities to keep the most vulnerable safe from abuse or neglect.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 does not affect the safeguarding protections in the Care Act, particularly at Section 42 of the Care Act. It is vital that local authorities continue to offer the same level of safeguarding oversight and application of Section 42. However, it is also important that safeguarding teams are proportionate in their responses and mindful of the pressure social care providers are likely to be under.
The Government recognises that safeguarding concerns and referrals may increase during the COVID-19 outbreak, with more people receiving support and support needs changing, which may prompt concerns. Safeguarding is everyone’s business, so it is important that we remain alert to possible abuse or neglect concerns. Local authorities, social care providers, the health voluntary sector and our communities must continue work to prevent and reduce the risk of harm to people with care and support needs, including those affected by COVID-19.
The immediate safety of the adult at risk and their carers must always be prioritised but where decisions are taken to prioritise responses to safeguarding concerns, the Principal Social Worker / Safeguarding Lead will advise on any changes to the consideration of safeguarding types and referrals. Principal Social Workers must work with their safeguarding leads to review any local policies or procedures that may be unduly time consuming or place an undue burden on care providers during this time. For example, local authorities may make changes to those local processes and timescales that are not mandated by legislation. In addition, Principal Social Workers should reassure themselves that Section 42 decision making is proportionate and that safeguarding teams are actively communicating with partners. Any such decision will have been agreed by the Director of Adult Social Services.
The Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care provides support to ongoing response planning and decision-making to ensure that ample consideration is given to a core set of ethical values and principles when organising and delivering social care for adults, including for safeguarding.
All providers of adult social care or health care have a key role in safeguarding adults in their care, and all agencies have a duty to ensure adults with care and support needs are not placed at risk of abuse or neglect by delays in care and support planning.
Employers must ensure that staff, including volunteers, are trained in recognising the signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect, how to respond, and where to go for advice and assistance.