Support Planning

This procedure should be used by anyone working in adult Care and Support carrying out Support Planning following an assessment or review.

Anyone carrying out Care and Support Planning with a person should refer to the relevant procedure for their team/service.

A Support Plan is a document prepared by the Local Authority which specifies:

  1. All the needs identified by the carer's assessment;
  2. Which of those needs are eligible using the national eligibility criteria; and
  3. Which needs the Local Authority is going to meet and how it is going to meet them.

Legally you must complete a Support Plan when:

  1. The carer has eligible needs; and
  2. The Local Authority is going to meet some or all of those eligible needs.

A Support Plan must also be completed if an agreement has been reached to meet ineligible needs following assessment.

If a carer has eligible needs but intends to arrange alternative support (e.g. informal care or health support) or is self funding you must also complete a Support Planning process whenever:

  1. The carer requests it; or
  2. You feel it would be beneficial due to the complexity of their need and the carer consents.

Whenever you complete a Support Plan you must involve:

  1. The carer whose plan it is; and
  2. Anyone else that the carer has asked you to involve.

If you feel that anybody else needs to be involved in the Support Plan (for example the person with Care and Support needs or a family member) you can only involve them with the carer's consent to do so.

The Care Act defines what must be included in any final Support Plan. It is important that you understand what must be included so that any Support Plan that is developed meets the statutory requirements.

See: The Information that a Support Plan must contain to read the requirements of a Support Plan under the Care Act.

Also see: Section 17, Recording a Support Plan.

Whenever Support Planning is being carried out at the request of a carer who intends to use informal or alternative support to meet their needs, or is self-funding, the process is the same as it would be if the Local Authority were to meet needs.

The purpose of Support Planning when a carer intends to arrange their own services is to:

  1. Use professional support to explore all of the available options to meet needs;
  2. Decide the best way to meet needs from the available options;
  3. Make the best use of their financial resources for the longest time (if they are self funding); and
  4. Decide the best method of arranging services.

Opportunities should still be taken to explore Local Authority options to meet needs alongside the intended informal or alternative options so that the carer can make an informed final decision about how to meet their needs through the process.

Arranging and managing services

Arranging services only

If the Local Authority will be arranging services, but not managing them the carer can choose whether to maintain the Support Plan or whether to end it.

If the carer wishes to maintain the Support Plan you should:

  1. Submit the draft plan for sign-off;
  2. Agree the final personal budget (to which the Local Authority contribution will be zero and the carer's contribution/contribution from other sources will be the full amount);
  3. Support the carer to arrange services/support in the plan; and
  4. Arrange for the Support Plan to be reviewed.

Note: If the Local Authority is requested to arrange services by a carer who is self funding they are legally entitled to charge an administration fee for making these arrangements.

See: Self Funders.

Arranging and managing services

If the Local Authority will be arranging and also managing services the Support Plan must be maintained and you should:

  1. Submit the draft plan for sign-off;
  2. Agree the final personal budget and how to manage it;
  3. Arrange services to be provided by the Local Authority;
  4. Support the carer to arrange any other services/support in the plan where required; and
  5. Arrange for the Support Plan to be reviewed.

Making their own arrangements

If the carer still intends to arrange all of their own support/services they can choose whether to maintain the Support Plan or whether to end it.

If the carer wishes to maintain the Support Plan you should:

  1. Submit the draft plan for sign-off;
  2. Agree the final personal budget (to which the Local Authority contribution will be zero and the carer's contribution/contribution from other sources will be the full amount); and
  3. Arrange for the Support Plan to be reviewed.

If there is no requirement for the Support Plan to be maintained and the carer wishes to end the plan you should arrange to do so. However, you must be mindful that the duty to meet eligible needs is not discharged until alternative services are in place.

If the carer still wishes to end the plan you should arrange to do so. However, you must be mindful that the duty to meet eligible needs is not discharged until alternative services are in place.

Upon ending the Support Plan you must:

  1. Provide the carer with any information and advice they request (or you feel would be beneficial) about available appropriate services to meet their needs;
  2. Provide them with information and advice about ways they can prevent, reduce or delay needs;
  3. Provide them with any other information that they request or that you feel will be beneficial;
  4. Consider the support the carer may need to arrange alternative services (the duty to meet eligible needs is not discharged until alternative services are in place);
  5. Consider the support the carer may need to contingency plan;
  6. Explain to them what they should do if the alternative support breaks down in the future;
  7. Agree any monitoring arrangements you deem necessary;
  8. Explain to them what to do if they change their mind about arranging their own services;
  9. Explain to them what they should do if their needs or situation changes (for example if the needs of the cared for person increase); and
  10. Continue to carry out any Care and Support processes with the cared for person as agreed.

All of the above information should be confirmed in writing.

You should consider closing the case when:

  1. The Support Plan is ended;
  2. There is no need to monitor the situation; and
  3. The carer knows what to do should their circumstances change or they no longer wish to arrange their own services.

Under the Care Act the function of Support planning can be delegated to anyone deemed appropriate who is:

  1. Asking to carry out the function (so long as the carer consents); or
  2. Willing to carry out the function (when asked to do so by the carer or the Local Authority).

A carer can choose to complete the whole of their Support Plan without your support or they can choose to complete a part of it.

Example:

Fred wants to complete the parts of his Support Plan that relate to his Wellbeing outcomes and the things he wants to happen in his life. He also wants to talk with his family about how they can help him to meet some of his eligible needs. However, Fred does not understand the range and benefits of service options that are available locally and it is agreed that his social care practitioner will support him with these aspects of the plan.

The Local Authority is legally responsible for the entire Support Planning process.

Where a Support Planning function is delegated (either in full or part) you will still need to co-ordinate and manage the process to ensure that it is completed in a timely and appropriate way.

Support Plans completed by anyone other than a Local Authority representative still have to be signed off and agreed by the Local Authority.

Under the Care Act the carer is able to complete some or their entire Support Plan without your support if they request to do so and you deem it appropriate. They are able to do this independently, with the support of an advocate or with the support of any other person of their choosing.

Before agreeing to delegate the Support planning function you must provide the carer with information about the process and purpose of the function. This will enable them to make an informed choice about carrying it out and the level of support they may need to be able to do so.

Considerations you will need to make before delegating include:

  1. The views and wishes of the carer;
  2. Whether the carer understands the process and purpose of Support planning;
  3. The support the carer may need to ensure their involvement is maximised (and whether the advocacy duty applies); and
  4. When another person will be supporting the carer, whether they are agreeable to doing so).

Before Support planning can begin the carer must be provided with the information they need to be able to do so. This includes information about:

  1. The Support planning process itself;
  2. The requirements of a Support Plan;
  3. The needs that are to be met through the Support Plan;
  4. The indicative personal budget amount;
  5. Appropriate services available in the local marketplace and the cost of these services;
  6. The prevention services available in the local area and any cost attached to these;
  7. Any general or specific information and advice relevant to or requested by the carer (for example around finances or risk); and
  8. Where applicable and available, the amount they will need to contribute financially to any Support Plan.

If the format is accessible to the person you can provide a blank copy of the Support Plan template used by the Local Authority to record plans as a tool to support them.

If the template is inaccessible, or the carer wishes to use their own format they are able to do so (see below for guidance around the format of the plan).

Also see: Section 6, Tools and Practice Guidance for Support Planning.

When you are satisfied that the carer has everything they need to complete the plan you should agree with them:

  1. A timeframe for the plan to be completed; and
  2. How you will monitor progress of the plan; and
  3. What to do if further support is required or the carer no longer wishes to complete the plan.

The Care Act defines what must be included in any final Support Plan. It is important that you understand what must be included so that any Support Plan that is developed meets the statutory requirements.

See: The Information that a Support Plan must contain to read the requirements of a Support Plan under the Care Act.

Because the final Support plan must meet all of the statutory requirements set out in the Care Act, the Local Authority uses a single format template.

If the format of the template is accessible to the carer you can use a blank copy as a tool to support the planning process.

If the format of the template used by the Local Authority is not accessible, or will not ensure maximum involvement of the carer it is appropriate to adopt a different Support planning style for some/all of the plan.

Examples include:

  1. Video or audio formats;
  2. Alternative written formats.

Wherever possible, as long as it meets all the statutory requirements the Support Plan should be recorded in its accessible format.

If the plan format does not meet statutory requirements, or if it is not possible to record and file it as it is (for example the technology used by the Local Authority does not enable electronic filing of audio or video) you should explain this to the carer and use the information to complete a final plan in a format that does meet statutory requirements (the Local Authority single format).

The final Support Plan should:

  1. Reflect all of the things from the original plan; and
  2. Explain that a plan in a different format exists and where this can be located.

If it has not been possible to reflect everything in the original plan within the final plan then a copy of the original plan should be attached to the final plan whenever it is provided.

Using a tool is not a statutory requirement but can be useful to support conversations during the process of Support planning. However, any tool should:

  1. Facilitate and maximise the carer's involvement;
  2. Support the process of exploring needs from a strengths based approach;
  3. Be flexible and adaptable; and
  4. Be appropriate and proportionate to the situation and needs of the carer.

See below for details of the tools that are available for you to use as required.

Support planning involves having a skilled conversation about:

  1. Wellbeing and outcomes;
  2. Ways to meet eligible needs; and
  3. Risk.

From the assessment (or other process to establish needs) you should have identified how best to communicate with the carer and support their engagement in Care and Support processes and any tool that you subsequently use should reflect what you know about the carer.

If you not feel that the tools available to you will be appropriate you should speak to your manager about how they can be adapted.

There are a range of tools available to you to support effective conversations during the Support planning process. You should consider the tool/s that you feel are best suited to the carer and will maximise their engagement and you should agree with them that a tool will be used.

First and foremost you should have regard for any available practice guidance or good practice examples provided by the Local Authority.

The following are other tools available to you that may enhance any Support planning conversations and accessibility.

tri.x has developed a range of person centred tools that can support a carer to:

  1. Think about what matters most to them, now and in the future;
  2. Think about Wellbeing;
  3. Think about needs and what a good day/bad day looks like; and
  4. Think about what is working/not working about a Support Plan and any services or support they receive.

See: Resources for Person Centred and Strength Based Conversations.

Supporting Outcomes-Focused Practice is a supplementary RiPfa website, available without normal subscription. It can support you to develop your skills, knowledge and practice in working with outcomes.

If a carer has substantial difficulty being involved in any Care and Support process you must take all reasonable steps to maximise their involvement.

You must:

  1. Ensure that you have provided information in an accessible way, or that the carer has an appropriate person to support them to understand it;
  2. Arrange to carry out Support planning in an appropriate format so that it is accessible. This is likely to be face to face, unless the carer's difficulty arises when engaging in face to face communication;
  3. Consider whether the carer has an appropriate person to support their involvement and, if not, whether the advocacy duty applies.

See: Using Independent Advocacy, which includes guidance on how to establish whether a carer needs an advocate and how to make a referral.

If the carer does not engage in the Support planning process taking place you should:

  1. Establish whether the reason for their disengagement is related to substantial difficulty, and if so ensure they have the right support in place (an advocate or an appropriate other person);
  2. Provide them with information to support them to understand the purpose of a Support plan, the process and the benefits of being involved.

If the carer continues to disengage from the process you should establish whether they still wish for the Local Authority to meet the eligible needs identified in the assessment.

If the carer no longer wishes for the Local Authority to meet their needs

If the carer has changed their mind and no longer wishes for the Local Authority to meet their needs you should:

  1. Provide them with the information and advice they request (or you feel would be beneficial) about available appropriate support to meet their needs;
  2. Provide them with information and advice about ways they can prevent, reduce or delay needs for Support;
  3. Provide them with any other information that they request or that you feel will be beneficial;
  4. Consider the support the carer may need to access any alternative services;
  5. Consider the support the carer may need to contingency plan;
  6. Explain to them what they should do if the informal or alternative support becomes unavailable in the future;
  7. Explain to them what they should do if their needs or situation changes; and
  8. Continue to carry out any planned Care and Support processes with the cared for person.

All of the above information should be confirmed in writing.

Where you feel there is a risk that the carer will not make appropriate arrangements to meet eligible needs you should make proportionate arrangements with them to monitor the situation, as the duty for the Local Authority to meet eligible needs is not discharged until alternative support/services are in place.

When informal or alternative services are in place and there is no need to monitor the situation you should consider closing their case.

If the carer still wants the Local Authority to meet their needs

If the carer confirms they still wish for the Local Authority to meet their needs you should:

  1. Explain to them that a Support plan is a legal requirement as part of the duty to meet needs;
  2. Establish if there is anyone else that the carer wants to represent them in the process; and
  3. Explain that you will proceed to complete a Support Plan based on the information gathered in the assessment and local services available.

If the carer continues to disengage you should proceed to develop a Support plan based upon the information available from the assessment and the local services available. This should be done in consultation with anyone that the carer consents for you to consult with.

A copy of the draft Support Plan must be provided to the carer and they should be invited to review it before it is submitted for sign-off.

Following sign-off a copy of the final plan must be provided to the carer in the normal way. If at any point the carer changes their mind about engaging the plan should be reviewed if this is appropriate and beneficial to the plan and the carer's Wellbeing.

Sometimes another person may obstruct you from carrying out Support planning with a carer who has Support needs. You should establish whether:

  1. The carer with Support needs has asked the person to obstruct the process, and if so whether they still wish for the Local Authority to meet their eligible needs; or
  2. The person obstructing the process is doing so out of concern for the carer (for example would the process cause anxiety).

Wherever possible you should provide information and advice relating to the Support planning process to the person obstructing it, to support them to understand the benefits and engage in the process.

If the person continues to obstruct the process, and you are not able to establish from the carer with Support needs that this is at their request you must take action to ensure the process is carried out. By obstructing the Support planning process the person is:

  1. Putting the carer with Support needs at risk through lack of support;
  2. Preventing the carer from being involved in how their Support needs are met; and
  3. Preventing the Local Authority from fulfilling its duties under the Care Act to meet eligible needs.

A Support planning process in this situation can be carried out based on the information gathered during assessment if this is the only option available. This should be done in consultation with anyone that the carer has previously consented to be involved in any Care and Support process (unless consent is known to have been withdrawn),

The advocacy duty should be considered and it is likely that a referral would be appropriate to ensure that the carer's involvement in the process is maximised.

Opportunities to review the Support Plan must be provided at such time when the carer is involved, and all information sharing should give regard to confidentiality.

Consideration should also be given to instigating an adult safeguarding concern if:

  1. There are concerns that the person being cared for may be at risk of abuse or neglect; or
  2. There are concerns that the carer is a vulnerable adult themselves and may be at risk of abuse or neglect (for example, by the person obstructing the review).

See Safeguarding Adults.

If the need for independent advocacy has not already been established at assessment and you feel that the carer may have substantial difficulty being involved in Support planning then you must consider whether the duty to make independent advocacy applies and, if so make the necessary arrangements.

See Using Independent Advocacy, which includes guidance on how to establish whether a carer needs an advocate and how to make a referral.

As the local authorities representative you have a co-ordinating role regardless of whether you are completing the Support Plan with the carer or it is being delegated.

Support planning is a person centred and person led process by law, and you must take steps (or be satisfied that the person delegated is taking steps) to maximise the carer's involvement at all times.

To maximise the carer's involvement you must:

  1. Provide the carer with accessible information about the purpose of a Support Plan and the process of Support Planning before it begins and with sufficient time for them to digest it;
  2. Answer any questions the carer has about the process or support them to access appropriate information sources;
  3. Provide information to enable the carer to decide whether they wish to complete the Support Plan independently from the Local Authority (see delegating responsibility above);
  4. Provide the carer with the indicative personal budget and explain what this is and how it has been decided; and
  5. Consider the need for an independent advocate or appropriate person to maximise involvement.

In some cases the only person who will need to be involved in the Support Plan is the carer. In other cases more people will need to be involved because:

  1. The carer has asked you to involve another person (for example, the cared for person);
  2. The carer has consented to the involvement of another person; or
  3. The carer will be using independent advocacy.

It is important that everyone who is to be involved in the process is aware of:

  1. The purpose of a Support Plan;
  2. The process of Support planning;
  3. The indicative personal budget; and
  4. The need to maximise the involvement of the carer.

Unless the carer is completing their own Support Plan independently roles should be discussed and agreed with them before planning starts, and their involvement should always be maximised.

It is important that everyone who is involved in the Support planning process understands the role they have in it.

A few examples of roles could include:

  1. Finding out information about available local services in the community;
  2. Finding out about how to access a health service that may be beneficial to reduce a need;
  3. Supporting the carer to understand the information provided to them;
  4. Co-ordinating a family meeting to talk about informal support that could be provided;
  5. Speaking to a range of providers;
  6. Exploring risk and contingency;
  7. Supporting the carer to think about their most important outcomes and the things they could do to achieve them;
  8. Writing a draft plan; or
  9. Calculating the total cost of draft Support Plan.

When roles are agreed it is important to also agree when different tasks and functions will be completed as this will affect how long the Support Plan takes to develop. It may be useful to prepare a simple written action plan for this purpose that can be shared with everyone involved and used to monitor progress.

tri.x has developed a tool that can be used as required to action plan.

See: Action Planning Tool.

The Care Act does not set out a timeframe to complete a Support Plan but it is important that the Support Plan is completed in a timely way so that:

  1. It is able to build on any conversations about ways to meet eligible need that took place during the assessment process in as seamless a way as possible for the carer; and
  2. There are no unnecessary delays in the meeting of eligible need.

When a timeframe is agreed it is important that you take steps to monitor progress, particularly where you have limited involvement in developing the plan yourself. The method of monitoring progress should be agreed with the carer and should be proportionate and appropriate, maximising the carer's involvement and control over the process.

Some of the factors that should influence the level of monitoring include:

  1. The level of urgency to meet eligible needs;
  2. The number of different people and tasks involved;
  3. The motivation of the carer and people involved to complete the plan.

The function of monitoring can be formal or informal, depending on what is agreed with the carer and most proportionate.  For example monitoring could include:

  1. Face to face via a meeting;
  2. Telephone conversations;
  3. E-mail; or
  4. Text.

Proportionate recording of monitoring activity should always be made.

If a plan is not progressing as agreed you will need to take appropriate action which could include:

  1. Arranging advocacy support for the carer if the person supporting them is no longer deemed appropriate;
  2. Arranging a formal meeting to discuss progress and agree a way forward;
  3. Taking responsibility for individual tasks to ensure they are completed; or
  4. Where the Support Plan is delegated, making a judgement that the delegation is no longer appropriate.

All of the above actions and decisions should be made with regard for the carer's views and wishes, and should continue to maximise their involvement and control over the process.

Sometimes the timeframe within which to Support plan is not conducive to all of the considered planning and preparation as outlined in this procedure. For example, there may always not be the time to research and make the best use of available information or to consult with others before arranging to meet with the carer. However, even when the timeframe is short it is of paramount importance that you still:

  1. Take all available steps to maximise the involvement of the carer in the process;
  2. Consider consent and substantial difficulty;
  3. Provide independent advocacy where it is required; and
  4. Prepare the person as much as possible.

If there are urgent needs you may need to arrange interim services to ensure that these are met during the Support planning process. If this is the case, see: Urgent or Interim Support.

Need to know

Remember that using a tool to support the process of Support planning can be useful for all involved.

See: Section 6, Tools and Practice Guidance for Support Planning.

You have a statutory duty to promote individual Wellbeing at all times. During the process of assessment or establishing needs you should have spoken to the carer about their Wellbeing and the things that matter most to them (their outcomes).

It is important to affirm during Support planning that the carer's Wellbeing has not altered, and if it has, to ensure that any changes are acknowledged. Wellbeing can change quickly and quite dramatically and you need to understand the carer's sense of Wellbeing now.

See: Talking about Individual Wellbing.

Put simply an outcome is anything that the carer:

  1. Wants to achieve;
  2. Wants to change; or
  3. Wants to stay the same.

Outcomes are personal and will be different for each carer. Outcomes can be related to eligible needs but equally they may not be.

Outcomes should reflect the things that the carer wants to achieve and not what other people want to happen.

Outcomes always relate to a sense of Wellbeing, but this is not always in a negative way.

Example:

Sally wants to qualify as a teacher. She is starting University in a few months time and is feeling hopeful. When talking about Wellbeing Sally is clear that the domain 'participating in work, education, training or recreation' domain is most important to her at the moment but in a very positive way.

Example:

Derek wants to be able to spend time with his friends but his caring responsibilities prevent him from doing so. This is affecting his emotional Wellbeing and he describes how it is very low indeed and he no longer feels a part of his social network.

The Local Authority is not responsible for meeting outcomes, only for taking steps to support them to be met. As long as you can demonstrate that you have taken steps to support the carer to meet their outcomes this is all that is required (regardless of whether the outcome is ultimately achieved or not).

Services should not be provided with the sole intention of meeting an outcome. However, you should explore whether any of the services that are to be provided to meet needs could also be used to support the carer to achieve outcomes at the same time.

Because Wellbeing and outcomes are so intrinsically linked you must understand a carer's outcomes in order to fulfil the duty to promote their Wellbeing.

These are the things you need to understand:

  1. What the carer's outcomes are;
  2. What not meeting the outcomes now means for their sense of Wellbeing;
  3. What impact meeting the outcomes would be likely to have on their sense of Wellbeing;
  4. What impact not meeting the outcomes would be likely to have on their sense of Wellbeing.

Specifically you must understand whether the carer has any outcomes in regards to work, education, training and recreation.

When establishing the likely impact of meeting or not meeting an outcome on Wellbeing you should use all available evidence to justify your professional opinion. Often, if a carer is experiencing a crisis their anxiety levels can affect their ability to rationalise the impact of an outcome on Wellbeing and your role is to:

  1. Support the carer to gain insight into their own situation; and
  2. Make a judgement based on evidence.

When an outcome is likely to have (or is having) an impact on a carer's Wellbeing you should promote Wellbeing by supporting the carer to explore and take steps to achieve the outcome. This should be done through a strengths based approach.

You should support the carer to:

  1. Think about the steps they may need to take to achieve their outcome (and to break this into manageable chunks if the steps are overwhelming);
  2. Think about the support they may need to take the steps to meet outcomes (including who can support them); and
  3. Think about some of the barriers and challenges to meeting the outcomes (and the things they can do to overcome them).

NHS Choices have an online resource: 5 steps to mental wellbeing.

Sometimes a carer will have an outcome that you know is outside of their means to achieve (for example something outside of their financial or physical means). Whilst it is important for people to have a goal to work towards, having an outcome that is not realistic will ultimately only have a detrimental impact on Wellbeing because it will likely never be achieved.

You should be sensitive in your approach but you must endeavour to support the carer to realise that the outcome they have may not be achievable. You should begin by following the 3 steps outlined in the previous section.

You could also encourage the carer to break the outcome down into smaller, more realistic outcomes that may achieve the same positive effect on their Wellbeing.

It is important to monitor whether outcomes have been met whenever a Support Plan is reviewed and whenever needs are reassessed.

However, because of the potential impact on the carer's Wellbeing you may decide that there is a need to monitor outcomes more frequently.

If this is the case, see Section 14, Deciding how the Plan will be Reviewed and Monitored.

Need to know

Remember that using a tool to support the process of Support planning can be useful for all involved.

See: Section 6, Tools and Practice Guidance for Support Planning.

There is a range of ways that the Local Authority can meet eligible needs under the Care Act, ranging from providing information and advice to professional support to the provision of a service. See: How Needs can be Met, part of the Care Act 2014.

When talking about meeting needs the starting premise should always be that the solution can be found somewhere from within the carer, their existing networks of support or their local community. Whenever available these solutions are always the most proportionate, the most likely to sustain a carer's independence and the most effective in avoiding the need for formal intervention. They support the carer to take control of their own life and promote resilience.

See: A Strengths Based Approach.

The duty to provide good information and advice and to prevent, delay or reduce needs applies at all times. Good information and advice supports the carer to make an informed choice about the best way to meet their eligible needs.

See: Providing Information and Advice for information about the duty to provide good information and advice, including the duty to make sure that information and advice is accessible to the person receiving it.

As well as providing any information and advice specifically requested by the person you should provide the following information and advice as part of the Support planning process:

  1. Information about appropriate available types of service to meet eligible needs and the cost of these;
  2. Advice about which ways of meeting needs may or may not be appropriate, based on evidence and your own professional knowledge;
  3. Information and Advice about ways to prevent, delay or reduce needs (including signposting or exploring referrals to a prevention service);
  4. Information about how services are arranged (including where relevant how services are arranged for self funders);
  5. Information about the Sign-off process of the Support Plan;
  6. Information about how a final personal budget will be decided; and
  7. Information about options to manage the personal budget, including Direct Payments.

You should also ensure that you have given the carer and anyone else involved time to ask questions or seek clarity about the process and available options to meet needs.

'Meeting needs' is an important concept under the Care Act and intentionally moves away from the previous terminology of 'providing services' for a reason. The Act expects you to take a diverse approach to the meeting of needs, which includes being able to support the carer to also take a diverse approach to the meeting of needs.

When you have decided with the carer the type of service to best meet needs (for example informal support of friends and family, a community based service, respite care) you will need to explore available options.

It is important that the carer's involvement in this decision is maximised. To do this you may need to consider a range of ways to explore options, depending on the carer's needs and circumstances.

Examples could include:

  1. Providing accessible information about different services;
  2. Allowing time for the carer to research the providers and services online or through making direct contact with them;
  3. The use of photographs to support a carer to visualise a service;
  4. Arranging for the provider to visit the carer at home;
  5. Arranging for the carer to visit a service and meet staff and people who use it;
  6. Testimonies of people already using a service.

Exploring how to meet needs from a strengths based approach can involve having some challenging conversations, particularly when the carer has traditional service-led ideas about the meeting of needs. However it is your role to support the carer to explore the full range of options available to them and to make an informed decision about which would best meet needs.

Skills for Care (SFC) has developed general guidance around effective communication. See: Communication skills in social care.

You may also find the tool Six Tips to Help You Have Difficult Conversations useful.

You should make effective use of supervision to explore and develop skills that will support you to have difficult and sensitive conversations with people in a positive way.

Where differences in views about meeting needs persist you are responsible for ensuring that the Support Plan that is submitted for sign-off:

  1. Meets all of the statutory requirements;
  2. Has explored all of the available options; and
  3. Reflects the most appropriate option to meet the carer's needs.

You are also responsible for ensuring that all reasonable steps have been taken to agree with the carer the best way to meet their needs. As long as you have done this then, where disagreement remains you are ultimately responsible for making the decision about how best to do so.

Where ongoing disagreement persists you should:

  1. Seek the support and advice of your line manager as required; and
  2. Make proportionate records of any conversations you have had to try and resolve the differences.

You must also make the carer aware of their right to complain about the decision that has been made.

Risk is broadly defined as 'the probability that an event will occur with beneficial or harmful consequences'.

The aim of any conversation about risk is to maximise the benefits and reduce the likelihood of harm.

During the Support planning process there will be a need to talk about risks to the carer:

  1. Risk associated with the carers own impairment or disability (e.g. falls when carrying out caring related tasks);
  2. Risk of accidental injury (e.g. from manual handling and supporting the cared for person to mobilise);
  3. Risks to the carer from the person they care for (e.g. from verbal or physical abuse or from behaviour relating to the use of drugs or alcohol);
  4. Risks to the carer's emotional health as a result of the caring role;
  5. Risks to the carers work or family life as a result of their caring role; and
  6. Risks to the carer's own network of support (e.g. is it sustainable and how likely is it to break down).

See: Talking about Risk.

As part of the Support planning process you must explore potential risks to the plan itself. Not doing so could place the carer at significant harm should an element of the plan break down or fail to be delivered.

The kind of risks to the plan will vary depending on each carer's needs and circumstances and any conversation that you have should be proportionate and appropriate.

Examples could include:

  1. Risks that informal Support being provided to the carer will not be sustainable;
  2. Risks that needs will not be met if a service provider is temporarily unavailable;
  3. Risks that the support in the plan will not be as effective at meeting needs or supporting the carer to achieve outcomes as intended;
  4. Risks that a regular Direct Payment will not be managed appropriately;
  5. Risks due to a likely change in the needs of the cared for person.

The carer should be involved in any conversation about risk and how to manage risk, as should anyone else that they ask you to involve.

You need to understand:

  1. What the risk is;
  2. What the impact of the risk would be to Wellbeing of the carer; and
  3. How likely the risk is to occur (based upon available evidence).

Depending on the level of risk a formal risk assessment may need to be carried out. See: Risk Assessment.

When risks have been identified a contingency plan will need to be agreed with the carer. A contingency plan is a proactive agreement about the steps that will be taken to mitigate and respond to the identified risk.

A contingency plan should include:

  1. Details of the risk;
  2. The likely harm to the carer (and where relevant, the person they care for) if the risk occurs;
  3. The proactive measures that will be taken to mitigate the risk; and
  4. The reactive measures to any risk that occurs.

The conversation about the contingency plan should be from a strengths perspective. If the carer is able to identify their own solutions and measures to mitigate and respond to risk they will have much greater control about what happens when risk occurs and how best to resolve issues in the best way for them.

Examples of proactive measures that can be taken to mitigate risks could include:

  1. Being part of a community group to build networks of local support;
  2. Training for the carer to support them to understand/manage the needs of the person they care for or carry out safe manual handling;
  3. Access to a specialist health service to maintain and promote good health;
  4. A sitting service to enable regular breaks;
  5. Respite for the cared for person away from home to support the carer to take regular breaks;
  6. Contacting an alternative care provider in advance to register with them in the event they are needed;
  7. Increased monitoring of a Direct Payment.

Examples of reactive measures to risk that occur could include:

  1. Emergency care provision arranged by the Local Authority (the Local Authority has a duty to arrange alternative care provision in the event of provider failure);
  2. Changing from one care provider to another;
  3. Additional formal care in the absence of informal care;
  4. Requesting an urgent review of a Care and Support Plan;
  5. Another family member stepping in temporarily if carer breakdown occurs.

The contingency plan should be appropriate and proportionate based upon the level of risk identified and the likelihood of occurrence.

The contingency plan should be clearly recorded in both the draft and final Support Plan.

Any cost associated with contingency should be included in the indicative budget amount and built into the total cost of the Support Plan.

You must provide information to the carer about the range of methods available to manage their personal budget so that they can make an informed decision about which method would work best for them.

The decision about how to best manage the personal budget should be made by the carer unless:

  1. They request a Direct Payment but either do not meet the criteria or you deem it inappropriate for a Direct Payment to be provided; or
  2. The option requested is not available in the Local Authority.

There are a range of methods available:

  1. The Local Authority can manage the personal budget;
  2. The carer can manage the personal budget through a Direct Payment;
  3. The Local Authority can manage some of the personal budget and the carer can manage some through a Direct Payment.

When deciding the best way for a personal budget to be managed you should consider:

  1. The thoughts, wishes and views of the carer;
  2. The availability of the services in the plan (to the carer and the Local Authority); and
  3. The appropriateness of a Direct Payment.

You should explain to the carer that if the method of managing the personal budget does not prove to be the right method this can be changed at a later date.

Specifically the Care Act expects the Local Authority to promote the use of Direct Payments, stating that any ability to meet needs by taking a Direct Payment must be clearly explained to the carer, so that they can make an informed decision about whether they wish to take this maximum level of choice and control over their Support. This means that whenever you identify that a Direct Payment may be appropriate you should discuss it in a positive way.

Many carers will decide to use a Direct Payment as it can be a very effective and flexible way for the carer to manage their personal budget to access support as and when they need it.

See the Direct Payment Procedure, including when a Direct Payment can and cannot be arranged and the process for doing so.

Under the Care Act there are minimum requirements for a Support Plan review as follows:

  1. A review of a new service or Support Plan should be carried out within 6-8 weeks of the service/change commencing;
  2. A review of an on-going stable Support Plan must take place no less than 12 months after the date of the 6-8 week review, and then no less than once every 12 months after that;
  3. Where the carer's needs or circumstances are likely to change reviews should be arranged as required to monitor the situation and respond to changes in a timely way.

Because the Support Plan is new, or is being revised the next review date must be no longer than 6-8 weeks' time. This should be clearly recorded on the Support Plan.

Where you are making arrangements for someone else to carry out the next review (rather than carrying it out yourself) you must make sure that you have recorded this in a way that will ensure the review takes place at the agreed time.

You must let the carer with Support needs know how they (or anyone else) can request an unplanned review outside of the agreed timescale if:

  1. The Support Plan is not working as intended;
  2. Their needs change (increase or decrease);
  3. Their circumstances change;
  4. The plan is affected by any change in the circumstances of the cared for person (for example if they receive more formal services or experience a change in need).

The Care Act requires you to make proportionate and appropriate arrangements to monitor the Support Plan whenever this is required.

Examples of situations when monitoring may be required include:

  1. If the plan is deemed unstable even with contingency;
  2. If the carer's needs are expected to change in the short term (impacting on the level of support they will need);
  3. If there is a likely risk of deterioration in needs or circumstance without monitoring;
  4. As part of ongoing MDT involvement or monitoring of a Care and Support Plan for the cared for person;
  5. If you are co-ordinating the follow up of an action plan agreed at review;
  6. To manage the risk from abuse or neglect.

The arrangements to monitor must be:

  1. Proportionate and appropriate to the carer's situation and risk;
  2. Agreed with the carer; and
  3. Agreed from a strengths based approach to promote resilience of the carer and their informal networks of support.

If you are unclear about the need to monitor you should seek advice from your line manager.

Need to Know

On-going monitoring can increase the likelihood of dependency on the Local Authority and it is important to build resilience wherever possible.

To reduce the risk of dependency decisions about monitoring must be made taking into account evidence that confirms the actual level of risk in not doing so (as opposed to the perceived risk that may be associated with anxiety only).

Monitoring arrangements must be clearly recorded. Where you are making arrangements for someone else to monitor the situation (rather than monitoring it yourself) you must make sure that you have recorded this in a way that will ensure monitoring activity takes place at the agreed time.

Any monitoring activity carried out should be clearly recorded and you should use supervision effectively to discuss and agree the need for continued monitoring.

If, as part of any conversation you have with a carer or their family you become concerned that a vulnerable adult or a child is experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect you must respond appropriately.

See Safeguarding Adults, which also includes information about how to raise a children's safeguarding concern.

If you are concerned that an adult or child is in imminent danger from abuse or neglect, or that a criminal act has taken place you should contact the police by dialing 999.

Where the safeguarding is in respect of the carer whose Support Plan is being developed (for example if the cared for person is causing harm to the carer) a decision will need to be made about the need to pause the process to allow a safeguarding enquiry to take place.

There are 3 possible options:

  1. The Support planning process continues alongside any safeguarding process;
  2. The Support planning process is paused with no on-going intervention by the person carrying it out whilst a safeguarding process takes place; or
  3. The Support planning process is paused but urgent interim support is arranged to ensure needs are met whilst a safeguarding process takes place.

Any decision should involve the person carrying out the Support planning process, the person who will be carrying out any safeguarding process and the carer.

You must consider any appropriate action required to authorise deprivations of liberty whenever:

  1. The person being cared for lacks capacity to make decisions about the Care and Support provided to them; and
  2. You feel the level of restriction being imposed on the person is depriving them of their liberty; or
  3. You feel the level of restriction required to meet their care and support needs following assessment is likely to deprive them of their liberty.

See: Recognising and Responding to Deprivations of Liberty.

It may be beneficial to combine the Support Plan with the Care and Support Plan for the cared for person.

Plans can only be combined if:

  1. The person with Care and Support needs is in agreement (or a decision is made in their best interests if they lack capacity);
  2. The carer is in agreement; and
  3. Combining plans is technologically possible.

It is your responsibility to seek clarity about which plans can and cannot be combined before suggesting this as an option for the person and carer.

Even if it is not possible to record separate plans on the system efforts should be made to carry out a single planning process with the person and carer in which to gather all of the information required for all of the plans at the same time if:

  1. They have requested a single planning process; or
  2. A single planning process would maximise their involvement.

Note: You are responsible for establishing the current framework used by the Local Authority for recording a Support Plan. If you are unclear you should speak to your line manager before proceeding to make a formal record of the plan.

Draft Support Plans should be recorded in a timely way and in line with local requirements.

Timely recording will:

  1. Reduce the likelihood of inaccuracies;
  2. Prevent any unnecessary delays for the carer; and
  3. Ensure that the duty to meet eligible needs is met as close to the need being identified as possible.

To maximise the involvement of the carer and to ensure that the Support planning process has been carried out in an accessible way there will likely be at least one (but possibly a range) of informal records made. Examples could include:

  1. A blank copy of the Local Authority template with handwritten notes;
  2. A tool that has been used by the carer to explore Wellbeing;
  3. Notes made about the different available services and associated costs;
  4. A pros and cons list to support decision making about the best way to meet eligible needs from the options available;
  5. A record of risks used for contingency planning.

It is important that you use all of the information and record it on the Support Plan where it is relevant to do so.

Any informal records should then be filed, destroyed securely or returned to the carer (if they have requested this) with full regard for confidentiality.

The following information must be recorded on the draft plan before it can be signed off:

  1. All the needs identified by the assessment;
  2. Which of these needs are eligible using the national eligibility criteria;
  3. Which needs the Local Authority is going to meet and how it is going to meet them;
  4. How any risk to the plan will be managed;
  5. Which needs are going to be met informally, or through alternative services;
  6. The information and advice that has been given about reducing, delaying or preventing needs that the Local Authority is not going to meet;
  7. How you propose the plan will be reviewed or monitored;
  8. The method of managing the personal budget proposed;
  9. Where a Direct Payment is proposed, which needs are to be met with the Direct Payment;
  10. The indicative personal budget; and
  11. The proposed final personal budget.

When services to support a carer are being provided directly to the person with Care and Support needs (for example respite services) it is important that the services are recorded appropriately to ensure that the carer is not charged for the services:

  1. The description of the service being provided should be recorded on both the Care and Support Plan and the carer's Support Plan (as part of the contingency plan); but
  2. The cost of the service should only be recorded on the Care and Support Plan (as the service is not being provided to the carer as part of their personal budget).

Sometimes the cost of the total plan will exceed the amount of the personal budget being requested. This is because the Support Plan may detail all of the ways that a carer's needs are to be met, not just those methods being provided by the Local Authority. For example, if the carer wants to include a social activity that is important to them in their plan.

Where there is a difference between the total cost of the plan and the personal budget, the amount that anyone else is going to pay should be clearly recorded on the plan.

Last Updated: April 6, 2022

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