Our monthly insight series provides summaries of the most significant news items in social care. With a significant amount happening in the sector currently, we hope that the following will help you focus on some of the key issues and narratives that you may need to be aware of to support your business and clients. Read the latest developments below.

DoLS replacement bill approved by Parliament with Liberty Protection Safeguards due to come into force in 2020

    Community Care, 26 April

    It is expected that the new model will be implemented by Spring 2020, though the government has confirmed that the DoLS will run alongside the LPS for a year after implementation to ease the transition of existing cases. The government will draft a series of regulations and produce a code of practice – which will be subject to consultation – setting out the detail of how the LPS will work.

    One of the most contentious issues surrounding the bill has been the debate over whether to include a definition of what constitutes a deprivation of liberty. With Parliament unable to agree upon a definition, the government tabled an amendment to remove a statutory definition from the bill completely, which was approved by the Lords this week.

    Council and care home amend fee policies after overcharging resident

      Care Home Professional, 18 April

      London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and Moreland House care home in Hornchurch have agreed to change their charging policies after a resident paid too much for her care. An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the council and care home provided the resident’s daughter with confusing and incorrect information about the fees her mother owed. The probe found the council at fault for contracting out collecting client contributions to the provider, contrary to current guidelines.

      Moreland House was found to have delayed invoicing the daughter for part of her mother’s fees, leaving with her a large bill when it arrived. The Ombudsman found that the council did not set a personal budget for the mother or prepare a care and support plan and failed to offer her a placement without a top-up fee, which is not in line with the Care Act.

      Shift from care homes to supported living unstoppable, report finds

        LaingBuisson, 16 April

        The adult specialist care sector has seen a slow but unstoppable shift from service provision in registered care homes to supported living services. The market, estimated to be worth £12.3bn in the UK in 2017/18, has adapted to austerity since 2010, using non-capped revenue streams from the social security system to support a slow but steady shift towards community-based service offerings. Cash-strapped local authorities have steered younger adults towards supported living in preference to residential care.

        More than 6,250 care homes sign up to digital tool

        LaingBuisson, 15 April

          The Capacity Tracker is being rolled out to homes, councils and hospitals by NHS England as part of its long-term plan for the health service. More than 6,250 care homes have signed up to the system, piloted in the North, Devon and Berkshire last year. Care home providers upload details of their available beds to the tracker, helping health and social care staff to find the right services for patients, including those with dementia or a learning disability.

          Better Care Fund Policy Framework 2019-20 published

            Department of Health & Social Care, 10 April

            The framework describes 2019-20 as a period of "minimal change" for the BCF. It will retain the same National Conditions as in 2017-19 and local authorities will continue to be required to pool grant funding from the BCF, Winter Pressures funding and the Disabled Facilities Grant. The main changes are:

            • Simplified requirements for narrative plans, which do not require the repeat of information that was provided in 2017-19 plans.
            • Collection through the planning process of what the framework describes as "more meaningful information" on the impact of the BCF.

            Charity Commission launches inquiry into mental health provider

            Laing Buisson, 10 April

            The Charity Commission has opened an investigation into Richmond Psychosocial Foundation International (RPFI) following the death of Sophie Bennett in May 2016. The 19-year-old had been cared for at Lancaster Lodge, a therapeutic residential home. Following a three-week inquest the jury concluded that neglect on the part of RPFI contributed to the teenager’s death.

            The charity regulator’s inquiry will focus on governance and compliance under charity law. It is considering the trustees’ compliance with their duties and responsibilities, their oversight and governance of safeguarding arrangements; and their response to the coroner’s report into the death and the governance changes that are necessary as a result.

            DHSC workforce letter confirms recognition of professional qualifications after Brexit

              Department of Health & Social Care, 4 April

              EU or Swiss qualified persons entering the UK after exit may have their qualifications recognised, whether we leave the EU with or without a deal. The letter from Matt Hancock also covered the EU settlement Scheme and the supply of medicines.

              Care England: Why are we waiting for CHC fee rates?

                Care England, 3 April

                All CCGs should have announced the new Continuing Healthcare (CHC) fee rates for care home residents who have a primary nursing need and are eligible for CHC funding. Often providers find that CCGs haven’t even discussed or agreed CHC rates or CQUINs with providers by April. This income cannot be recovered as time passes and is therefore retained by CCGs rather than paid to providers. Care England urges providers to look at Guidance on this matter.

                Skills for Care launches new guide to help services improve

                  Skills for Care, 1 April

                  The ‘Guide to improvement’ offers a comprehensive toolkit to help your organisation to deliver high quality care and support, and meet regulatory standards. The guide was created because, at the beginning of this year, 17% of regulated adult social care services in England were still delivering care that didn’t meet the CQC’s fundamental standards. These organisations need to act quickly to make sure that they meet these standards, as, when quality begins to drop, they’re much more likely to need costly interventions to turn that service around.

                  Knight Frank Healthcare Capital Markets 2019

                    Knight Frank, April 2019

                    Highlights include:

                    •  Healthcare investment is up 13% to £1.49bn.
                    • Overseas investment rose by 20% and edged closer to its 2013 peak when 70% of all capital came from abroad.
                    • Adult care homes and supported living accommodation, with £350m invested in 2018, accounted for 24% of all recorded healthcare deals.