Common Assessment Framework

For Adults
At the moment, all the organisations that look after your health use different ways of recording your information. The NHS records them one way, one social care organisations records them another way, and another social care organisation might record them differently too. We need a way to bring all those records together, so you will only have to tell people your details once, and if your situation changes, everyone who needs to know about it will be looking at the same system, so they will all be on the same page.

What is the Common Assessment Framework?
Whenever you go somewhere to be looked after, whatever the reason, your care has to be planned. The Common Assessment Framework, CAF, will replace the ways different social care organisations do their plans. This is because the government wants all the organisations that care for people to talk to each other in a more efficient way. Their idea on how to do this is to set up one way of recording as much as possible of the information social care organisations and the NHS need in a computer system that everyone who needs to can access, but keeps your information secret and safe when necessary.

What can I do?
Read the next five pages carefully! This is all based on a government consultation which you can find at the NHS website, www.dh.gov.uk. They want to know whether you agree with their plans, can you see any problems, is there anything you can solve for them, do you have an insights from your own experiences of social care, whether you're working for the system or living in it? Post or email your comments, ideas and questions by 12 April 2009 to: CAF Consultation Department of Health Room 123 Wellington House 135-155 Waterloo Road London SE1 8UG Email: caf@dh.gsi.gov.uk

Why now?
As more and more people now use computers, it's the best time to come up with a system that everyone can use.

Working out what care people need
The government is proposing several ways of working out how much care people need, and different ways of assessing them depending on what stage the person is at. The government hope to build on and improve the relatively new Single Assessment Process which is currently used for caring for older people, and make the care and support more personal. They want to do this through different levels of assessment: Self-assessment There are more and more situations where people who need support can work out their your own needs are and get support and advice based on the evidence they give. One example is getting equipment to help you out at home from a community fund, another could be getting support and advice for coping with and treating long term illness. Supported assessment Similar to self-assessment, you use your own experiences and ideas to work out what you need with help and advice from a care or health professional, who will help you identify if you are taking unnecessary risks. Contact assessment If you or your carers think you have more complex needs, a contact assessment will help you work out what you need to do next and all the options that you have. Overview assessment This kind of assessment will be offered to you by your health or social care worker because they think that you'll get some benefit from looking at all your circumstances together – by looking at things like your home and family life, how you feel, your physical abilities and social needs , how your culture or beliefs affect your care, as well as everything else you're experiencing to come up with the best way of caring for you.

Specialist assessment If something comes up outside of the normal assessment process that changes your circumstances, or if a contact or overview assessment brings up something you need to look at, you can have a specialist assessment to work out what to do about it. Carers assessment Carer's needs should be assessed regularly as well. Your needs, and the needs of people you care for will change regularly and our health and social care services should support your efforts. You should be involved in other assessments as well.

Keeping up to date
Reviewing your needs One or two assessments at the beginning of the process are not very useful when things change, or illnesses progress. Because of this, health and social care services should be reviewing people's needs, without prompting, on a regular basis. Care coordinators Having someone in particular you can contact to talk to can be very helpful when you're in need of long term care. The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) wants to set up care coordinators, single points of contact, whether they're a professional health or social care worker or someone hired just to be a care coordinator. If you're familiar with the way health and social care services work, you could be your own coordinator, or if you have a carer they could. The care coordinator role is very important, as you will have to trust them with your information, and act as a central point for everyone to talk to, including you, any carers, and health and social care workers. Financial support The CAF also wants to set up more systems that will help you spend the money you use for your care and support in the best way for you. A care broker could help you work out where your money will be put to best use. All these ideas will need more computer systems to support them than are around at the moment. CAF is being tested at a few places around the country, and this will help the government work out what computer systems everyone should get.

What information do you want to collect?
The government wants to collect enough data to give anyone with access to your file a really good picture of what support and care you need. They want to include: All about you • • • • • • • • • • Your NHS number: this is what will link you to other health care systems. Your name, age, and so on. Where you live. People and pets who depend on you. People who you depend on. What you do, for instance work, hobbies, activities Whether you need any help communicating (for instance if you're hard of hearing) Your doctor Who you want to be able to see your details How easy it is for you to make decisions for yourself

Why you might need care or support • A summary that says why you've been referred to health or social care services, or why you might need their help. This includes the results of your contact assessment. Information to support you to: ◦ Improve your health by telling us about your physical and mental needs. ◦ Improve your independence by telling us about your day to day activities ◦ Have as much choice and control as possible by telling us how you like to be cared for and supported ◦ Feel safer by telling us how you can be more secure, whether you're being treated fairly, and whether you're having any problems with bullying or abuse. ◦ Improve how you live your life by supporting you with housing issues, and helping you keep healthy and cared for. ◦ Get more education or training where it helps ◦ Keep your relationships and social life going ◦ Keep your head above water financially

What care and support you should get • Your care plan, which will be the result of all the information you give plus the contact and overview assessments your health or social care agencies do with you. Agencies could either record key details of your care plan, or the whole thing, depending on how they're set up. If you have specific needs or something happens which changes the level of care you need, the government wants to make sure the results of your specialist assessment, that is, how they are going to care for you or support you, are on the system.

What are you going to do with this information?
The government wants health and social care agencies to share information better. However, they don't want anyone to share your information unless you agree to it. You should be able to agree to certain people seeing your information, but you should also be able to say that other people don't get to see it. This is already being done by some councils, but taking it to a national level makes it much more complicated, which makes it more risky. Some of the more obvious risks are: • Health and social care agencies do not all have the same computer systems. This means that messages about consent – who sees what information – might not be passed along properly. Everyone needs to be working with the same standards. • Not all the information the government and councils have is great quality. If this is going to work we all need to be working to the same standards so we can trust the information on the system. • Different ways of talking about the same things. A social care agency in Norfolk might use different words and methods to dealing with situations than a clinic in Liverpool. Everyone needs to explain what they're doing well enough for everyone else to understand. • Not enough training on computer systems. People still think computers can slow things down, because they're typing up notes twice, or having to redo care plans they've done one way because the computer won't accept them, or they lack confidence and training using computers.

What will the new computer system look like?
The government thinks that mainly it will be based on the current NHS system. They would like to make sure that if you already have a system in place, that all the useful information you record can go on there, such as answers to assessment questions. Where you're using paper files, they want to look into moving away from them towards computer records. Social care services should have much more access to NHS information. Eventually the government hopes that people will be able to update basic details themselves, like address details. They're looking into systems that will be more helpful at crunch points in the care system, usually when people are moving from one kind of care another, for example if they're discharged from hospital and need to go into social care, or social care needs to bring in another health or care agency to help with care.

Remember to write to the address on page 2 if you have anything to say about these plans!

I hope you found this easy to understand. This is a totally unofficial translation of the Common Assessment Framework: for Adults consultation from the Department of Health at www.dh.gov.uk. For more translations go to www.simplyunderstand.com.

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