2 Providing information and advice

View notes on this clause

(1) A local authority must establish and maintain a service for providing people with information and advice relating to care and support for adults and support for carers.

(2) The service must provide information and advice on the following matters in particular—

(a) the system provided for by this Part and how the system operates in the authority’s area,
(b) the choice of types of care and support, and the choice of providers, available in the authority’s area,
(c) how to access the care and support that is available, and
(d) how to raise concerns about the safety of an adult who has needs for care and support.

(3) In providing information and advice under this section, a local authority must in particular seek to ensure that what it provides is sufficient to enable adults to make plans for meeting needs for care and support that might arise.

(4) A local authority may exercise the duty under subsection (1) jointly with one or more other local authorities by establishing and maintaining a service for their combined area; and where they do so—

(a) references in this section to a local authority are to be read as references to the authorities acting jointly, and
(b) references in this section to a local authority’s area are to be read as references to the combined area.

31 Responses to 2 Providing information and advice

  1. david roberts says:

    A website enabling individuals to cost and purchase services, providers to bid for same, would assist the development of an effective market. As stated this duty could be meet by a phone advice service. So add a clause to para 3 requiring LAs to have a website with those features, to be enacted when the SoS issues an SI so that there is time to get these up and running.

  2. Alan Taylor says:

    Any register of services should be transparent with good information about how services reflect the uniqueness of the user and their individual needs, user/carer involvement, how the provider plans the provision, about continuity of service and staff, about number of staff and qualification levels, about the number of complaints received in specific 12 month periods, and with the basic pricing structure so that the users can make informed decisions on who to purchase from.

  3. Clive Barwell says:

    Within the context of subsection (3) above, part of the information provided by the Lovcal Authority must be a clear statement of what is the maximum amount they will fund in terms of care costs. Currently, no information is published so Citizens cannot plan ahead as they don’t know what the Local Authority will and won’t pay for. Many Citizens are under the misapprehension that the Local Authority will pick-up the full cost when a self-funder runs out of money, which is often not the case. Also, Citizens don’t understand that the Local Authority will only top-up other income, generally pensions and Attendance Allowance, to their maximum.

    Clarity in these areas is essential for Citizens to be able to plan ahead.

  4. David Coldrick says:

    The information given by the local authority should cover the whole continuum of care providers. All too often local authorities seem to simply provide a list of providers with whom they have contracts thus ignoring the needs of people who are not eligible for such provision or who really do not want that type of provision. That creates a less competitive, less quality driven mechanism for the exercise of personal choice.

  5. Richard Judd says:

    Good Information is key for carers.Many carers in my area are of a generation that can’t use computers,so other sources of information are vital.A lot of information and help is provided by my local carers centre.They have been in operation for 20 + years,but still have to sort contracts with the local authority.They should be provided with a source of funding which is permanent.In my area there is also a gap in provision of services,making choice almost impossible.The Local authority should be sourcing more providers for service users and carers.

  6. Pauline Dye says:

    Information advice and support for family carers needs to be local and holistic. Carers’ Centre provide a means by which carers’ individual needs can be talked through and ways forward developed, which both reduce the well researched adverse effects that caring has on carers and to help them to carry on caring for as long as they choose to do so.

  7. Andrea Welch says:

    local authorities do not have a good track record in providing transparent and easily accessible information. Fairer access criteria and fairer charges criteria; as well as actual charges published are evidence of this. It’s a real fishing exercise around their websites to find this. They also need to be engaging with local voluntary sector agencies to ensure the information about the local authority information reaches the right people!

    • Linda Brown says:

      I quite agree that the local authorities are often not aware of what is available in their local community. At the Volunteer Centre we take many referrals from people who tell us we are the “last resort”, being passed from pillar to post.
      We provide vital direct services in our community for older or disabled people, many of whom receive no other help and are left in the dark. Large organisations such as Red Cross and Age UK tell people to call us! Also Hospital Discharge Teams are calling the Volunteer Centre for help. There are many people left to fend for themselves with little or no help, we appear to be an Information Centre and yet our local authority does not fund us at all.

  8. Belinda Schwehr says:

    This is in the spirit of personalisation as it offers a means to help people to help themselves. But for me, as an advisor, the potential ambiguity in this section is whether this is to be a merely descriptive information service, or an advice service about what to do, for instance, when the council’s resource allocation system has not been explained, or what to do when the finalised resource allocation is one which no sensible person could feasibly think could cover the needs? Advocacy is not being funded so as to be independent of councils, in any real sense these days – it has been cut because its grant funding was on a discretionary basis – and duties had to come first. If I was selling an information and advice service to a local authority, I would want a guarantee that I could advise people of their legal rights against the council, and how to get the local clinical commissioning group, for instance, to do better on continuing NHS health care; I would also want a guarantee that my organisation could signpost the public to indicators of good and bad evaluations of local services, without feeling it was going to be sued for defamation or bias. I do not think that this is what the government has in mind for the duty to provide information. I do not think that call centres will be funded to offer a professional advice service about rights.

  9. Maggie Whitlock says:

    There is a difference between information and explanation and advice they go hand in hand.

  10. Melissa Echalier, Action on Hearing Loss says:

    We fully support the inclusion of this duty in the statute, this will make it clear to local authorities that they are responsible for providing good quality information about services available in the local area on a universal basis. This will become increasingly important as people receive their care in the form of direct payments. We are concerned that information about social services is not reaching those people who would benefit from it. It is likely that many of these people are not eligible for state-funded support and, having no further contact with social services, may not receive information about equipment that, with hearing aids, could help them to minimise the impact of their hearing loss. For instance, NHS audiologists may not refer people to social services because they believe that they will not be eligible for their support – people with hearing loss may still benefit from information about equipment that social services are well-placed to provide.

    The draft bill does not refer to the requirement for services to be fully accessible to all groups. We recognise that the Equality Act applies, meaning that local authorities are required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that their services are accessible to disabled people. However, we believe that the code of practice for the Care and Support Act should also cover how information should be fully accessible to all groups. For people with hearing loss, this may mean that appropriate communication support, such as a British Sign Language interpreter or a speech-to-text reporter, should be provided where spoken information is being communicated. In addition, any written information should be provided in British Sign Language clips and in plain English.

  11. HAFAD (Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability) says:

    We welcome the obligation on local authorities to provide information and advice.

    Websites can be an effective and efficient means of providing basic information. However they need to be well designed, clear and accurate, fully accessible and updated regularly by people with specialist knowledge. We find this is rarely the case. They also only provide general information – they cannot deal with individual circumstances.

    Call centres can go some way to providing a more personalised information service. This depends on the quality of the staff and the training and support they are given. Because of the complexity of social care people do not always understand what they are entitled to and what to ask for. We also find that many local people try to use council run information services but find them inaccessible when they are unable to clearly articulate their needs. We can only conclude that such council run services currently do not have the necessary investment, time, skills or training required. Teams providing such services should have a specialist knowledge of all areas of social care and the attitude, willingness and experience to work in the best interests of anyone who might access their service.

    As a local disability charity many members tell us that what they most need is genuinely tailored personal advice and information as to their rights to services together with support to navigate the complicated system of adult social care.

    Most importantly an advice service should be independent of the local authorities. Genuine advice cannot be restricted to and governed by the local authorities views and practices. Where a person disagrees with a council decision an effective advice service should not only explain their rights to challenge that decision but also show them how to do so, even when this may result in an outcome that may be less advantageous to the local authority. For example, advising people about their rights to be assessed for disability related expenditure to offset their care charges.

  12. J Polles says:

    Again I think Melissa makes very good points.

    I am a little short on time.
    But just to say if some people with other disabilities could take time out to learn British Sign Language inorder to help translate for people with hearing loss it would reap benefits all round.

  13. Sian Balsom says:

    My concern here is that to keep costs low, many local authorities are now looking at web based solutions. But there are still large numbers of people who do not have web access, and do not wish to access information online. How will this issue be addressed within the Bill? I also wonder how this will be linked to existing plans for local HealthWatch organisations, and how this will be made to join up with existing services that offer information, advice, guidance and signposting? Also, information alone is not as useful as independent support with planning care and support. But many service providers cannot provide that independent help, and will only signpost to their own services. So this needs careful consideration.

  14. Jan Kendall Dementia Advocacy Network says:

    We welcome of course the duty on local authorities to establish and maintain a service providing “information and advice relating to care and support for adults and support for carers”. The increasing occurence of this being ‘on-line’ although suitable for many excludes a large number of people for whom such access is difficult or impossible. Information is also often too general for people who need ‘to talk to someone’ and have ‘tailored advice’. Support to then act on this information and advice also then needs to be available for some people. Independent advocacy should be available freely to all those who struggle to access or understand the information and then navigate the often complex adult social care system – otherwise the information is of no use.

  15. Anne Barrett on behalf of the South Carers Network says:

    This is a collective response faciliated by the Health and Social Care Partnership for the South Carer Leads Network. There are positive and negative comments and some questions. This response relates to Clause 2 and 3.

    Positive.
    • Clear language i.e. “duty”
    • LAs can join up making better use of resources
    • Good to be taking a proactive, preventative approach for carers
    • Good to be encouraging a range of providers
    • Good to be able to have early conversations with carers rather than launching into an assessment only to be told they are not eligible at the end of the process
    • Good that there will be a clear eligibility criteria
    Negative
    • All needs to be supported by clear guidance otherwise interpretation will vary across the country. Need evidence to be able to commission services.
    • Need to clarify responsibities
    • Need to be clear about the role of HWBB, CCGs, Health watch and the NHS within the carer context
    • Need to ensure that the wider market takes more responsibility for carers, i.e. employers
    • Difficulty in providing a range of services in this current climate. Can’t do block contracts, difficulty in monitoring and safeguarding issues.
    • Still need to have more onus on identifying carers otherwise services will be commissioned for a lower number of carers than there actually are
    Specific issues for carers:-
    Is there a requirement for LAs to offer mainstream advice? For example, Bus time tables etc.
    What about the responsibilities of health?
    What does it mean by accessible forms? Does this include all carers who may have disabilities, language barriers etc.

  16. James Holloway, Independent Age says:

    Our recommendations on advice and information regarding top-up fees and deferred payments are part of a number of broader recommendations regarding advice and information in the Bill. We believe that:

    • The Bill fails to define and distinguish between ‘information’ and ‘advice’. In our view, information is about providing value-free and objective instructions on the operation of the care and support system, including details on a person’s rights and entitlements and the location and function of local services. Advice takes this a step further by identifying the key options and choices for an individual, tailored to their specific circumstances, and providing them with support to navigate the system and understand the potential outcomes of the different choices available to them. Advice also allows individuals to challenge what they may regard as unfair decisions. In many cases, ‘advice’ therefore needs to be independent in nature.

    • The Bill fails to define and distinguish between different advice areas.

    We identify three main types of advice:
    - information and advice which provides an individual with an understanding of their rights and entitlements to support
    - information and advice about finance and funding options for individuals who need or want to fund some of their care themselves
    - information about the quality and choice of care services available to them.

    It is essential that the Bill recognises the fundamentally different nature of, for example – financial advice, which may need to be provided by a qualified independent financial adviser, compared to, for example, information about the range of local home care services.

    In addition, we make the following specific recommendations:

    • Regulations must include a clear definition of what constitutes quality in the delivery of local advice and information. The availability of good quality advice and information on social care, including independent financial advice, is essential to making sure people can understand and meet their current needs successfully and can act to prevent future need for care and support.

    • Clause 2(2) should be amended to state: ‘The service must have sufficient capacity to provide quality information and advice on the following matters’. We are concerned the draft Bill doesn’t include the detail required on the volume and reach of information and Advice Services available, in addition to our concerns about quality. Often, just giving people access to information only is not enough to ensure people can meet their needs successfully.

    • Guidance must confirm that local councils provide a comprehensive range of delivery options and formats for people that can be tailored to their particular needs and set of circumstances. It must include access to independent financial advice as well as information and advice about rights and entitlements and quality and choice.

  17. James Holloway, on behalf of Independent Age says:

    Our recommendations on advice and information regarding top-up fees and deferred payments are part of a number of broader recommendations regarding advice and information in the Bill. We believe that:

    • The Bill fails to define and distinguish between ‘information’ and ‘advice’. In our view, information is about providing value-free and objective instructions on the operation of the care and support system, including details on a person’s rights and entitlements and the location and function of local services. Advice takes this a step further by identifying the key options and choices for an individual, tailored to their specific circumstances, and providing them with support to navigate the system and understand the potential outcomes of the different choices available to them. Advice also allows individuals to challenge what they may regard as unfair decisions. In many cases, ‘advice’ therefore needs to be independent in nature.

    • The Bill fails to define and distinguish between different advice areas.

    We identify three main types of advice:
    - information and advice which provides an individual with an understanding of their rights and entitlements to support
    - information and advice about finance and funding options for individuals who need or want to fund some of their care themselves
    - information about the quality and choice of care services available to them.

    It is essential that the Bill recognises the fundamentally different nature of, for example – financial advice, which may need to be provided by a qualified independent financial adviser, compared to, for example, information about the range of local home care services.

    In addition, we make the following specific recommendations:

    • Regulations must include a clear definition of what constitutes quality in the delivery of local advice and information. The availability of good quality advice and information on social care, including independent financial advice, is essential to making sure people can understand and meet their current needs successfully and can act to prevent future need for care and support.

    • Clause 2(2) should be amended to state: ‘The service must have sufficient capacity to provide quality information and advice on the following matters’. We are concerned the draft Bill doesn’t include the detail required on the volume and reach of information and Advice Services available, in addition to our concerns about quality. Often, just giving people access to information only is not enough to ensure people can meet their needs successfully.

    • Guidance must confirm that local councils provide a comprehensive range of delivery options and formats for people that can be tailored to their particular needs and set of circumstances. It must include access to independent financial advice as well as information and advice about rights and entitlements and quality and choice.

  18. Peter Denton - for Tameside LINk says:

    We welcome this requirement. In implementing this we feel that local authorities must take into account both the value (multi-media and interactive media can make complex issues easy to understand) and the drawbacks (in our area there is good data to suggest that core social care client groups (older people and disabled people) have lower than average Internet access and are less inclined to get it than the population as a whole. We think, therefore, that this requirement needs to work well alongside the ‘advice and information’ function of local Healthwatch – with Healthwatch having a role in supporting people to access and make sense of the local authority’s information.

    We wonder how care brokerage services might connect with this requirement.

  19. Jacqui Cuff Advocacy Manager, Cats Protection says:

    Under clause 1 the point has been made that research shows that cats can have a very postive effect on wellbeing. If an adult is considering obtaining a cat as part of its care package (as an identified need) then there is information and assistance that can be accessed via the Cats Protection website and other animal rescue sites that may assist and local branches would be pleased to assist. Advice can be given about a suitable cat based on a medical condition – some cats are house cats, more docile, older and so charities such as ourselves can advise on matching up cats to identified needs and circumstances.

  20. Sally Young says:

    We welcome the local authority duty to provide an information and advice service to all adults about care and support services. Services provided by the voluntary and community sector should be included, including those services not contracted by the local authority, to widen the choice for those with personal or individual budgets.

    We hope that the information about care and support services will enable those whose level of need is assessed as ineligible, and those people who are self-funders to have high quality advice about what is available and avoid them being exploited or mis-sold equipment and to receive appropriate care. Information about costs and what will be paid by the local authority system should be included.

    Information needs to be transparent and to indicate the quality of providers along with safeguarding assurances and whether CRB disclosures are carried out. There should be engagement with the local voluntary sector to make sure information reaches hard to reach communities and vulnerable individuals.

    An essential part of information and advice is personalised support and independent advocacy to enable people to know their entitlement, make an informed choice and to navigate through systems of increasing complexity, especially as the number of providers increase. We would like to see advocacy specified. We also believe that a reliance on online services means frail and confused older people will not be able to navigate the system without independent support.

  21. Dr Helen Brown says:

    West Anglia Crossroads on behalf of carers supports the requirement to provide information and advice. These terms should not be used interchangeably – advice has a greater responsibility and need for independence.
    Greater use of technology to provide infomation in different formats through different media should increase reach – carers frequently say that information is really important to them. We would like to see more about involving carers and giving them a role in providing information to each other.
    In terms of information about care and support, lack of information about provision from health (eg of availability of respite via continuing care) does not seem to be addressed here.

  22. A Ingram says:

    Clearly a ‘Duty of Care’ applies overall and should be reflected in the wording of the legislation.

  23. Wendy Weidner, Dementia Pioneer, Dementia UK says:

    A Combined comment on 2. Providing Information and Advice and 3. Promoting Diversity & Quality in Provision of Services: It seems to me the plan to provide information and advice on services in a particular area is key — PWD and carers need to know what their options are in terms of care provision. However, often authorities only promote the care agencies, etc., that already have contracts with the authority. These two points will only be important if the authority provides information on a wider scope of services available, etc., and is clear about the costs of these services so that families can plan ahead. One idea could be to have a central website where all services are listed and people using them can ‘rate’ them based on satisfaction — sort of like trip advisor — so that the public can get a sense of which service provides value for money. This could create some competition and encourage services to work harder! Health has developed a similar website in the south (granted this is only one aspect of it) called our health (www.ourhealth.southwest.nhs.uk)

  24. John Miles says:

    The Bill suffers throughout by largely ignoring the need for independent advocacy, and when it does refer to it, classifying it only as ‘support’.

    Here, clause 2 (2) should have a further sub-section (call it “e”): ‘how to access independent support to seek redress and make complaints’.

  25. Emma Stone, Director of Policy & Research, Joseph Rowntree Foundation says:

    Information, advocacy – and the need for a decision about care funding

    1. The lack of information and support to plan for later life and make effective care choices has been consistently identified in our work as a major weakness in the current care system and an ongoing source of frustration and concern among older and disabled people and their families (Collins 2005, Beresford 2010, Stone and Wood 2010). Providing an authoritative source of information about health and care at national level, and working with local authorities to fulfil their duty to provide a local offer of information, advice and assistance, is therefore an all-important element of the vision laid out in this White Paper.

    2. It is excellent that there is more explicit reference to advocacy in the White Paper. Our research and consultation with service users has found that information alone is often inadequate, and there is a real need for information, advice and advocacy. Older people clearly state that they often need more than ‘signposting’: they also need guidance and support (Horton, 2009). Whilst the term “advocacy” is not well understood by service users, the concept – having someone to speak on your behalf and take more hands on action to “sort things out” over and above providing advice – is universally valued and is essential for people who are already more marginalised and disadvantaged through impairment, long-term conditions or socio-economic circumstances. People value a seamless spectrum of support encompassing all these elements (Quinn et al 2003 and Margiotta et al 2003). Advocacy in particular – including peer advocacy and collective advocacy through user-led organisations – is essential if information and advice is to be effective and meaningful to people using services (Godfrey et al, 2004; Horton, 2009.)

    3. By including a duty to provide information, advice and advocacy, the government would be taking a significant step in helping to meet this need, but would also be supporting the principle of choice and control by enabling more service users to have their voices heard through an advocate. This would be particularly important for those service users who are least able to express their preferences and needs for themselves. This remains beyond the remit of the White Paper, but we are encouraged by the intention to work with partners to develop and disseminate best practice and potential new business models.

    4. Finally – but crucially – I want to take this opportunity to highlight the central importance of resolving the ongoing debate about funding social care. A clear settlement about care funding is crucial to the success of the vision outlined in the White Paper and its implementation. I was heartened to hear the Secretary of State for Health recently reaffirm his commitment to the Dilnot Commission principles. The national eligibility criteria, portability of assessment and indeed even the duty to provide information and advice will have little impact on people’s lives if a care funding settlement is not agreed to provide both clarity and certainty regarding what the individual must pay relative to the state. The opacity of care funding and variability of eligibility rules are important contributing factors explaining why people do not plan for their care and make poor choices related to their care in later life (Hirsch and Spiers, 2010). JRF is deeply concerned that the government has yet to commit to a firm timeframe for care funding reform. For many of today’s older people and their carers, this will be too late. Moreover, we must bear in mind that the Dilnot cap is a model for sharing the costs of care between the state and individual – not a funding settlement in and of itself. We urge the government to think seriously, in the light of an ageing population and resource limitations in social care and the NHS, about the need to prioritise social care funding.

    All the comments I have posted on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to different clauses and topics are based on the fundamental assumption that 1) the government will honour its commitment to implementing the Dilnot care funding model and 2) will agree a sustainable care funding settlement. If these are done, then I believe the White Paper and Draft Legislation have the potential to usher in genuine and far-reaching modernisation.

    (Research reports referred to above are all available from http://www.jrf.org.uk)

  26. oliver_walder says:

    The information must be accessible to deafblind people and if you simply go to a venue where a mixed group of DB are gathered, say for a meeting, it is a revelation to observe the varying communication needs and resources required.

  27. Mrs Ann Leask says:

    Access to clear and easy to understand information is the cornerstone of Service Users and Carers being able to access suitable services that meet their needs.

    The information would be better provided from a central source so that anyone accessing it gets the same message. The current situation whereby every local authority produces some information has led to the current situation whereby care is assessed differently in different parts of the country and this has to change.

  28. Angela Dias, Harrow Association of Disabled people (HAD) says:

    Being well informed about options, and limitations, is essential to everyone who needs to make care choices to enable them to live independently, and having access to good advocacy is an essential need for those who cannot articulate their concerns appropriately.

  29. Jill Manthorpe says:

    Many of the commnets made above make the helpful point that information and advice tend to get seen the solution to a range of rather ill-defined problems. Our research with people with a recent diagnosis of dementia or what is termed Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) (funded NIHR SDO) illustrates that information and advice ‘needs’ encapsulate many subjects and conversations. While the Bill cannot spell out professional requirements and curricula, it will be important for local commissioners and national bodies to ensure that professional qualifying programmes equip professionals and practitioners to work effectively with general and specialist advice/information/advocacy services.
    Our further research on the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (funded NIHR) suggests the risk of people being sent on an infomation ‘merry go round’ when seeking advice about making arrangements in advance of lost of decision making capacity. There is a need to quality assure information/advice services especially those who offer these as an adjunct to their main activities. Signposting or passing on to agency after agency is not a good outcome for people seeking help including carers.
    We are also finding in our study of Carers’ Workers (funded by NIHR SSCR) that web based information on local authority sites is hard to navigate. We conducted a web based audit of a large sample of local authority websites and found it difficult to get relevant information about what was available to carers – with some sites ending up referring a potential inquirer to a general phone number that could have been given at the start of the search !. As other comments have observed, Carers Centres or Disease/Long Term Conditions Centres offer a tailored service in many respects and combine information with the support needed to make sense of it and to persevere with addressing difficult and sometimes distressing subjects. Information and advice in social care are not the same as other consumer choices, they are about the very real acknowledgements of disability and stress.

  30. Wendy Lowder says:

    Why is there not a duty for other public sector organisations to co-operate in the development of information and advice to enable as seamlesss an offer as possible.