THE Law Commission is recommending the most far-reaching reforms of adult social care law seen for over 60 years.

For the first time, older people, disabled people, those with mental health problems and carers will be clear about their legal rights to care and support services.

Local councils across England and Wales will have clear and concise rules to govern when they must provide services.

Included in the Commission’s recommendations are:

  • Putting the individual’s wellbeing at the heart of decision-making, using new statutory principles.
  • Giving carers new legal rights to services.
  • Placing duties on councils and the NHS to work together.
  • Building a single, streamlined assessment and eligibility framework.
  • Protecting service users from abuse and neglect with a new legal framework, and
  • For the first time, giving adult safeguarding boards a statutory footing.

Frances Patterson QC, the Public Law Commissioner leading the review, said: “Our recommendations will bring much needed clarity and accessibility to this important area of the law, and have a major, beneficial impact on the lives of many of our most vulnerable citizens.

“Our recommendations will protect the strong rights that exist in adult social care law while, at the same time, ensuring that emerging policy objectives, such as personalisation and self-directed support, are recognised fully in statute law.”

The review has been warmly welcomed by disability groups.

Steve Winyard, RNIB Head of Campaigns and Policy, said: “RNIB is delighted with the outcomes of the Law Commission review, which means the registers for blind and partially sighted people

will be retained.

“The registers aren’t just a piece of paper: for the one hundred people who lose their sight everyday they offer a vital lifeline. This helps them to be recognised by local authorities and receive the care and support they need to remain independent.

“The Commission set out a large number of recommendations and we welcome efforts to modernise care assessments and the rules governing entitlement to care.”

Sue Brown, Sense ’s Head of Public Policy, said: “We specifically welcome the Commission’s proposal that social care focus on outcomes related to education, training, recreation and making a contribution to society. We are calling on the Government to listen to the experts and ensure social care is more than washing, feeding and dressing and gives disabled people, including deafblind people, the specialist support they need to get out of the house and access society.”

The Government will review the Commission’s recommendations with a view to introducing legislation in 2012, as part of the wider review of adult social care that includes the funding of services.