However, what has been taking more time, and will certainly continue to do so, is the work currently underway to implement the requirements of the Care Act, which start coming into effect from 1 April.
This Act received royal assent back in May 2014.
It is a substantial piece of legislation which should be welcomed for it has swept aside much of the previous legislation around social care in the past.
It is very much person-centred, putting the emotional wellbeing of the resident at the very centre of decisions made about their care and support – and for me that is really important.
It is in three main parts – part one deals with the reform of adult social care and support legislation and is structured around an individual’s journey through the reformed system, be they someone in need of care or, equally important, their carer.
Part two of the Act seeks to improve care standards by putting people and their carers in control of their care and support.
Part three of the Act sets up Health Education England and Health Research Authority.
All this means big changes for the County Council Social Services and, last year, we realigned our service to be ready to meet the challenges of this Act, but there is still so much more to be done.
We also know that there are additional financial implications, which is why the government has given us £5.8 million and we have made a further allocation so we have £8 million to ensure we are meeting the requirements of this Act– but it is possible we will need more so we have made provisions.
Very importantly the Act has, for the first time in primary legislation, set out the local authority’s responsibility for Adult Safeguarding, something I think was much needed and is to be greatly welcomed. This includes a responsibility to ensure we conduct enquiries into cases of neglect or abuse, establishing a Safeguarding Adults Board – which we have done - and, also, very importantly information sharing.
We must also make sure that people who would have great difficulty in being involved in their social care planning, and who do not have someone else to represent them, are provided with someone to speak on their behalf – an independent advocate.
These are just a couple of examples in the Care Act. There is an awful, awful lot more and reading through all the detail it is good to see the role of the carer is not only acknowledged but very much part of the changes.
While the way most parts of the Act are delivered is decided by the Government, some aspects can be decided locally. We are currently holding a public consultation offering people the chance to comment on our proposals for these areas, and as part of this we have held a series of consultation evenings. I attended one last week and not only was it informative, but gave the opportunity for people to ask questions. However there is a lot of information – too much to give here - so please visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/careact if you would like to find out more and take part in a short survey. The consultation closes on Wednesday 11 February.
There are still some details which need further clarification and currently we are having regular updates from Government and we will, of course, pass this information on.
Councillors have also had the opportunity to learn about the Care Act and we will be continuing with additional information so that everyone is fully briefed. But most importantly, work will be on-going to ensure that the County Council is best placed to deliver a good service based on the Care Act to our residents who need it.
Louise Goldsmith.Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.