It may seem an obvious point, but for legislation to be robust, enduring and effective it has to be created based on the widest consultation possible. If you don’t involve both the people charged with enacting it, or those it is intended to serve, then – really – what’s the point?
Our current Care Act consultation is the latest expression of this enthusiasm and commitment to open, inclusive policy making. Sector engagement is critical - and we have had some fantastic conversations with colleagues in local government, up and down the country, all of whom are getting ready to implement the Act. That said, we need the broadest sweep of views possible to make sure guidance and regulations are fit for purpose and help fulfil the Act’s intentions.
The momentum is certainly there. The consultation’s online presence saw us leap comfortably over the 200 comments barrier even before we’d reached half way (the window for contributions closes 15 August) and the Department has received thousands of emailed comments since launch.
Meanwhile, in the physical realm, policy teams have been out in the country meeting service providers and users face to face.
We have heard from people with diverse mental health needs who reflected on their experiences of the care and support system. Individuals spoke about the importance of cultural and religious understanding and the need to sustain fulfilling social lives in the community.
At another event, an elderly carer spoke about the difficulties of approaching local authorities for help – especially through online platforms. While we continue to develop online tools we must be mindful of the needs and wishes of those who feel uncomfortable with – or unable to use - digital platforms. Our approaches must be inclusive across the generations.
We also met with deaf-blind people and their families, who emphasised the importance of having specialist assessors for deaf-blind people. Effective care and support must be personalised.
This is what it’s all about. The Care Act exists to make a difference to some of the most vulnerable people in society. By extension, the consultation will function to ‘future proof’ the Act’s effectiveness for many years to come.
If you haven’t done so already, I urge you to visit our dedicated consultation site to read and comment on the guidance and regulations for part one of the Care Act. With just two weeks left before the consultation ends, it’s an opportunity to help shape the way care and support is delivered for this and future generations.
For my part, it is a privilege to be involved in a process built on consensus and the desire to put wellbeing at the very heart of care and support. The deadline remains 15 August 2014. Please have your say. Your views will count.