Care Programme Approach

This procedure should be used by social workers:

  1. Working in a mental health service who
  2. Are required to undertake care and support functions of the Care Act; and
  3. Are also required to act as a Care Co-ordinator under the Mental Health Act 1983.

This procedure should not be used by social workers who:

  1. Undertake care and support functions of the Care Act; but
  2. Do not act as a Care Co-ordinator under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is a framework set out in the Mental Health Act 1983. It defines the way that services should be assessed, planned, coordinated and reviewed for someone with mental health problems or a range of related complex needs.

It is important that you familiarise yourself with any local guidance from your managing NHS Mental Health Trust or body as this will set out:

  1. Local requirements for implementing different stages of the Care Programme Approach; and
  2. Any local processes for doing so.

Chapter 34 of the Mental Health Act Code of Practice provides practice guidance regarding the Care Programme Approach. It must be regarded at all times.

The policy and practice guidance document, Refocusing the Care Programme Approach is referenced directly in the Mental Health Code of Practice.

It contains detailed guidance to support practitioners and organisations to implement each stage of the approach effectively.

Effective joint work is a key requirement of the Care Programme Approach, and always important when working with other professionals, especially when the person has complex, multiple or fluctuating needs.

The Joint Work Procedure sets out:

  1. The forms that joint work can take;
  2. Some of the benefits of joint work;
  3. Some general principles for good joint work; and
  4. The joint working protocols in place locally.

Depending on the needs and circumstances of the person the Care Programme Approach may be able to meet all of their needs, including those that are defined in the Care Act.

However, often the person will have additional needs, for example needs around:

  1. Personal care;
  2. Meal preparation;
  3. Budgeting and finances; or
  4. Maintaining a home environment.

It is your responsibility to:

  1. Identify additional needs that the person may have; and
  2. Assess whether those needs are eligible under the Care Act; and
  3. If so, arrange to meet the needs.

All of the care and support functions and statutory requirements of the Care Act apply including:

  1. Access to information and advice about adult care and support;
  2. The duty to provide an independent advocate;
  3. The duty to assess on the appearance of need;
  4. Powers to provide urgent support and services pending assessment;
  5. The duty to meet eligible needs;
  6. Care and Support Planning;
  7. Personal Budgets;
  8. Review of a Care and Support Plan.
Need to know

To avoid duplication for the person you should consider whether:

    1. An assessment of need under the Care Act can be carried out at the same time as a health assessment under the Care Programme Approach;
    2. Information from a health assessment can be used to inform the assessment of need (and vice versa);
    3. Information from a Care Plan can be used to inform a Care and Support Plan;
    4. Any review of a Care and Support Plan can be combined with the review of a Care Plan.

Regardless of whether you are carrying out functions under the Care Act or as part of the Care Programme Approach you are required to:

  1. Identify any adult or child who may be a carer; and
  2. Offer them an assessment; and
  3. If they consent, carry out the assessment (or arrange for an assessment to be carried out if this is not your role).

Last Updated: November 5, 2021

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