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Hundreds and thousands: the number of new assessments social workers must do under care reforms

Hundreds and thousands Image Source Rex Features 1


As I’ve mentioned before, social workers and care managers face doing significantly more assessments under the Care Bill. But until now I haven’t bothered to actually look up how many, despite the information being contained in the government’s impact assessments on the legislation, published in May. Rather belatedly, I’ve now done this and the figure is big; very big.

The increased demand comes from two sources: carers and self-funders.

230,000 to 250,000 new carers assessments a year

The bill would effectively give carers a right to an assessment, ending the current requirement for them having to provide, or be intending to provide, a substantial amount of care on a regular basis.

Under the bill, this threshold would be lowered to the point where councils would be required to offer an assessment to any carer who appeared to be in need of support.

The result, says the government’s impact assessment, is that the number of assessments would increase by 230,000-250,000 as a result of the legislation. This compares to 400,000 being conducted in 2010-11. However, the government reckons the increase would take place over three to four years from the implementation of the legislation in April 2015.

Nevertheless it’s a sizeable increase that will require resource (the government reckons £23m to £25m a year) to implement.

180,000 to 230,000 extra assessments of self-funders

More existing self-funders will come forward for an assessment because of the government’s introduction of a £72,000 cap on the reasonable costs that people should incur on their care from April 2016 onwards. To be considered for this cap, any self-funder would have to be assessed by their local authority and have their progress to the cap tracked through annual reviews.

The government’s impact assessment calculates this will result in between 180,000 and 230,000 more assessments in 2016-17, when the cap comes into force (alongside an increase from £23,250 to £118,000 in the means-test limit above which people are ineligible for support with their residential care costs).

440,000 to 530,000 extra reviews of self-funders

The impact assessment also calculates that there will be an extra 440,000 to 530,000 reviews of existing care users in 2016-17. I’m not sure how this figure has been arrived at; it could be that the additional assessments refer to self-funders who are not receiving services and are approaching the council as a first port of call; and the reviews figure refers to self-funders already receiving a service and who then approach the council so that their care costs can be counted towards the cap. It’s not altogether clear but that’s my assumption.

These figures all refer to the first year of the reforms (2016-17). It’s fair to say that in subsequent years we will not be seeing this kind of increase in the number of self-funders as there would not be the bulge of existing care users approaching their councils so that they can be considered for the care cap and more generous means-test.

15,000 self-funders to receive “case management”

The impact assessment also suggests that 15,000 self-funders might be in need of “case management” from social workers or care managers, that is to say, some kind of ongoing input and review. These are people who would be receiving high-intensity care at home.

I won’t go into how these figures have been calculated but do check out the impact assessments for these details. Suffice to say, there are a lot of assumptions built into these figures which means they cannot be watertight.

How much will it all cost?

For the carers assessments, the government estimates the additional annual cost to be £23m to £25m, on the basis that an assessment costs £100 a time.

In relation to the care funding reforms, the impact assessment calculates the additional costs of assessment, review and case management at £210m in 2016-17, the first year. This puts the unit cost of an assessment at £400-500, of a review at £200-250 and of case management at £1000 to £1100 a time.

Who will be doing the assessments: social workers or non-professionally qualified staff?

The government’s cost calculations are based on the existing costs of assessments so thereby assume that the distribution of labour between social workers and non-professionally qualified staff will be roughly the same as it is now.

Sorry it’s taken so long to provide those figure but hope they give a little food for thought.

Photo credit: Image Source/Rex Features

Mithran Samuel

About Mithran Samuel

Mithran Samuel is adults' editor at Community Care.

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