KEY POINTS

  • Practitioners provide an essential role in ensuring people have access to information and advice which helps people understand key information and make choices about care and support.
  • Good information and advice plays a role in preventing or delaying people’s need for care and support, and in enabling people to make well-informed choices and take control of their care and support and how they fund it.
  • It’s about more than providing leaflets or factsheets; it’s about good quality conversations with people as well as providing the right amount of information at the right time.

July 2019: This chapter was revised to add an additional last paragraph in Section 4, Factsheets and Customer Guides.

1. Introduction

Lincolnshire County Council is committed to ensuring that everyone in Lincolnshire has access to information and advice which maximises independence and self-help.

This chapter highlights the importance of good information and advice in preventing or delaying people’s need for care and support, and in enabling people to make well-informed choices and take control of their care and support. It sets out the principles that should underpin every contact we have with our customers as soon as it becomes apparent they may have needs for care and support.

It is critical to the vision in the Care Act that the care and support system works to actively promote wellbeing and independence, and does not just wait to respond when people reach a crisis point. To meet the challenges of the future, it will be vital that the care and support system intervenes early to support individuals, helps people retain or regain their skills and confidence, and prevents need or delays deterioration wherever possible. (Care and Support Statutory Guidance, Chapter 2)

Section 1 of the Care Act 2014 sets out the duties of local authorities to promote the wellbeing of their citizens and ensure effective measures are in place to prevent, reduce or delay the need for care and support services.

These principles should underpin every contact we have with our customers, as soon as it becomes apparent they may have needs for care and support. This starts with access to the best quality information and advice, being directed to sources of support in our communities and ultimately, where needs assessments are required, ensuring requests are dealt with effectively and swiftly to get people the support they need.

2. The Wellbeing Principle

Local authorities must promote wellbeing when carrying out any of their care and support functions in respect of a person. This may sometimes be referred to as ‘the wellbeing principle’ because it is a guiding principle that puts wellbeing at the heart of care and support.

The wellbeing principle applies in all cases where a local authority is carrying out a care and support function or making a decision in relation to a person. It applies equally to adults with care and support needs and their carers.

The wellbeing principle is consequently referred to throughout this Adult Care policies and procedures site, as it is throughout the Care and Support Statutory Guidance.

The following is extracted directly from the Act:

Section 1 – Promoting wellbeing

  1. The core purpose of adult care and support is to help people to achieve the outcomes that matter to them in their life. Throughout this guidance document, the different chapters set out how a local authority should go about performing its care and support responsibilities. Underpinning all of these individual ‘care and support functions’ (that is, any process, activity or broader responsibility that the local authority performs) is the need to ensure that doing so focuses on the needs and goals of the person concerned
  2. Local authorities must promote wellbeing when carrying out any of their care and support functions in respect of a person. This may sometimes be referred to as ‘the wellbeing principle’ because it is a guiding principle that puts wellbeing at the heart of care and support
  3. The wellbeing principle applies in all cases where a local authority is carrying out a care and support function, or making a decision, in relation to a person. For this reason it is referred to throughout this guidance. It applies equally to adults with care and support needs and their carers
  4. Wellbeing’ is a broad concept, and it is described as relating to the following areas in particular:
    1. personal dignity (including treatment of the individual with respect)
    2. physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing
    3. protection from abuse and neglect
    4. control by the individual over day-to-day life (including over care and support) and the way it is provided
    5. participation in work, education, training or recreation
    6. social and economic wellbeing
    7. domestic, family and personal
    8. suitability of living accommodation
    9. the individual’s contribution to society
  5. In addition to the general principle of promoting wellbeing, there are a number of other key principles and standards which local authorities must have regard to when carrying out the same activities or functions:
    1. The importance of beginning with the assumption that the individual is best-placed to judge the individual’s wellbeing. Building on the principles of the Mental Capacity Act, the local authority should assume that the person themselves knows best their own outcomes, goals and wellbeing. Local authorities should not make assumptions as to what matters most to the person
    2. The individual’s views, wishes, feelings and beliefs. Considering the person’s views and wishes is critical to a person-centred system. Local authorities should not ignore or downplay the importance of a person’s own opinions in relation to their life and their care. Where particular views, feelings or beliefs (including religious beliefs) impact on the choices that a person may wish to make about their care, these should be taken into account. This is especially important where a person has expressed views in the past, but no longer has capacity to make decisions themselves
    3. The importance of preventing or delaying the development of needs for care and support and the importance of reducing needs that already exist. At every interaction with a person, a local authority should consider whether or how the person’s needs could be reduced or other needs could be delayed from arising. Effective interventions at the right time can stop needs from escalating, and help people maintain their independence for longer (see chapter 2 on prevention)
    4. The need to ensure that decisions are made having regard to all the individual’s circumstances (and are not based only on their age or appearance, any condition they have, or any aspect of their behaviour which might lead others to make unjustified assumptions about their wellbeing). Local authorities should not make judgments based on preconceptions about the person’s circumstances, but should in every case work to understand their individual needs and goals
    5. The importance of the individual participating as fully as possible. In decisions about them and being provided with the information and support necessary to enable the individual to participate. Care and support should be personal, and local authorities should not make decisions from which the person is excluded
    6. The importance of achieving a balance between the individual’s wellbeing and that of any friends or relatives who are involved in caring for the individual. People should be considered in the context of their families and support networks, not just as isolated individuals with needs. Local authorities should take into account the impact of an individual’s need on those who support them, and take steps to help others access information or support
    7. The need to protect people from abuse and neglect. In any activity which a local authority undertakes, it should consider how to ensure that the person is and remains protected from abuse or neglect. This is not confined only to safeguarding issues, but should be a general principle applied in every case including with those who self-neglect.

The need to ensure that any restriction on the individual’s rights or freedom of action that is involved in the exercise of the function is kept to the minimum necessary, for achieving the purpose for which the function is being exercised. Where the local authority has to take actions which restrict rights or freedoms, they should ensure that the course followed is the least restrictive necessary. Concerns about self-neglect do not override this principle.

Promoting wellbeing involves actively seeking improvements in the aspects of wellbeing set out above when carrying out a care and support function in relation to an individual at any stage of the process from the provision of information and advice to reviewing a care and support plan. Wellbeing covers an intentionally broad range of the aspects of a person’s life and will encompass a wide variety of specific considerations depending on the individual. (Care and Support Statutory Guidance, Chapter 1)

3. Information and Advice

Lincolnshire County Council is committed to ensuring that everyone in Lincolnshire has access to information and advice which maximises independence and self-help. We continue to invest in improving this function.

Chapter 3, Information and Advice, Care and Support Statutory Guidance describes ‘information’ as “the communication of knowledge and facts regarding care and support”, and ‘advice’ as “helping a person to identify choices and/or providing an opinion or recommendation regarding a course of action in relation to care and support”. The guidance highlights the importance of good information and advice in preventing or delaying people’s need for care and support, and in enabling people to make well-informed choices and take control of their care and support and how they fund it. The guidance states:

The local authority must ensure that information and advice services established cover more than just basic information about care and support and cover the wide range of care and support related areas…In fulfilling this duty, local authorities should consider the people they are communicating with on a case by case basis, and seek to actively encourage them towards the types of information and/or advice that may be particularly relevant to them. …Separately to the duty to establish and maintain an information and advice service, local authorities must provide independent advocacy to facilitate the person’s involvement in the care and support assessment, planning and review processes where an individual would experience substantial difficulty in understanding, retaining or using information given, or in communicating their views, wishes or feelings and where there is nobody else appropriate (see chapter 7).

The information and advice service must cover the needs of all its population, not just those who are in receipt of local authority funded care or support. For example, people may often require information and advice before they need to access care or support services, to consider what actions they may take now to prevent or delay any need for care, or how they might plan to meet the cost of future care needs.

It is important to recognise that while local authorities must establish and maintain a service, the duty does not require they provide all elements of this service. Rather, under this duty local authorities are expected to understand, co-ordinate and make effective use of other high quality statutory, voluntary and/or private sector information and advice resources available to people within their areas.

(Care and Support Statutory Guidance, Chapter 3, Information and Advice)

The resources available are quickly and frequently progressing, and practitioners should be familiar with the information sources and advice services available to the people of Lincolnshire. Adult Care provides information through the Adult Care area of the County Council’s website.

This chapter includes information about the support provided by the Customer Service Centre (CSC) and the boundaries of the CSC responsibilities; details of ordinary residence and where the Care Act has impacted on ordinary residence; and links to services offered through the integration of health and social care services. Additionally, practitioners can gain details of the correct area team dependent on the customer’s postcode.

4. Factsheets and Customer Guides

We have a duty to ensure people have access to information and advice in order for people to be as informed as they can be in all aspects of our work with them. This ensures they can make informed decisions about their care and support.

The Forms Library contains a range of printable fact sheets. The factsheets are intended for electronic use, e.g. viewing online or attaching PDF’s to emails or for local printing / photocopying where people need a paper copy.

Practitioners can ask for information and advice to be sent out by Business Support. This will save practitioners time and ensure the customer is getting the information and advice they need. To make a request, there is a correspondence step in Mosaic which can be used at any time. This step can be left open to allow the allocated practitioner to use the step if further information and advice is required to be sent out. The correspondence step will need to be completed when the case involvement ends.