CASCAIDr stands for the Centre for Adults’ Social Care – Advice, Information and Dispute Resolution ...
CASCAIDr is an online specialist advice charity, expert in the legal principles that are supposed to govern how adult social services operate in England and Wales, and intertwine with rights to NHS services. There’s no ‘appeal’ against social work or clinical decisions in these sectors – only complaints and litigation, but law is still relevant to those processes, and that’s what we’re good at explaining.
We’ve been going since 2018, and have survived the worst of the Covid era – just about.
Our professional and charitable mission is supporting the sound administration of justice for anyone who, due to mental ill-health, physical or sensory impairments, deterioration or disability, needs access to care and support to enable them to work, study, stay safe or develop social networks.
In England, it’s the Care Act 2014, the Guidance issued under that Act by the Dept of Health and Social Care, and some regulations that shape people’s rights, but there are cases and our local government Ombudsman’s reports about poor practice and unlawful decision-making too.
We operate online, primarily, in a virtual space, and apart from our Operations Manager, work through unpaid trustees/directors, and volunteers. For the advice work, we use self-employed caseworkers and contractors as informal experts in the Care Act, and health, social care and human rights law in general. We also collaborate with barristers who do direct public access work and hope to be licensed soon to instruct ANY barristers without the need for a solicitor’s involvement. That is because the legal aid sector’s interest in community care law is withering, as take-up of a loophole in Court of Protection legal aid funding is taken advantage of by firms all over the country. We don’t DO Court of Protection work, please note.
Since none of us can know, now, whether any one of us will end up dependent on others for care, or lacking in mental capacity to organise it, CASCAIDr’s point is that everyone needs health and social care services to be allocated lawfully, rationally and fairly. Covid has made things far far worse, but it was already grim before Covid, in terms of councils’ adherence to the legal framework – as can be seen in case law, and in the Ombudsman’s Reports and the proportion of complaints being upheld for sheer ignorance of how to do their day jobs!
That’s why we think everyone will understand that this field of specialist legal expertise needs to exist and thrive, and that access to legal advice must be available and affordable to those most in need. That’s why we have two sorts of service: our free scope work, (Triage for anyone making a referral) (and ongoing, for some, dependent on the strength of the evidence about their issue) and our chargeable work, for the majority of clients – at £135 ph after the first free maximum 3 hours’ work on our Triage decision. We can tell you if you will likely qualify for legal aid and give you the means to find a legal aid law firm, with a summary of your issues, if we’ve been able to distil them and come to a view. If your matter is still apparently too complex for us to even make a Triage decision, in the free 3 hours, you can then choose whether to have a volunteer unpick your issues, or pay a reduced fee for more unpicking by one of our paid Caseworkers, and have it summarised to assist you in INTERESTING a law firm of one sort or another into taking it further.
Donations to keep us going through Covid-19 and the purchase of annual packages of advice and training materials, for carer and peer support groups, charitable providers, advocacy organisations etc. can be made – via our Yellow Donation Button on the right, and for purchases, via the Services or Packages page.
We also benefit from all the accounting profit made by our trading company, CASCAIDr Trading Ltd. This company offers advice at a reasonable rate to individuals on more complex matters outside of the defined scope of free and low cost advice provided by the Charity. Advice and training packages are also available for non-charitable organisations, at rates ranging from £150-£750 per year, for Zoom or Teams-based training recordings, together with some advice for subscribing organisations’ own issues, or those of their clients.
We find that enlightened and business-minded housing, health and social care providers, law firms and advocacy organisations all get the point of contributing and/or investing in training packages.
Care providers’ own financial security and sustainability is directly related to CCGs’ and local authorities’ awareness of people’s legal rights to a decent care package. A personal budget from Health or the council has a direct impact on the fee being paid to the provider.
CASCAIDr’s management hopes that working with the Charity or its Trading Company will become a badge of honour for organisations – because it conveys that they care about legal rights. We hope that one day, prospective customers might well ask providers whether they support CASCAIDr’s work, before making a decision about whether to buy care from them.
What is our impact?
The advice we provide enables ordinary people to set out for CCGs’ and councils’ management and elected or Board Members, why they must apply public law principles and make decisions in line with legal expectations set by Parliament in the Care Act (and by government in the National Framework for NHS continuing health care.)
The advice output is geared to the resolution of disputes rather than the generation of litigation, but our work tends to re-invigorate regard for legal principle, enabling a competent and knowledgeable workforce to make defensible decisions, in good faith. We focus on complaints work and legal correspondence, well before using a threat to litigate.
If we are unable to reach resolution in cases where there is a clear public interest in challenging strongly likely unlawful practice or decisions, CASCAIDr can support the individual to CROWDFUND, on CrowdJustice, for funding an application for permission for judicial review. We will sometimes join in, or even lead, on litigation, as an actual litigant, if we can get a protective costs order to cap our exposure to costs, if the case were to be lost.
This enables wider access to justice than currently, because it is not restricted by limitations to Legal Aid or to lawyers offering a legal aid service, either now or in the future. And if the council or CCG concedes the case on the basis of advice, before the crowdfunded project has hit its target, it won’t have cost anyone anything, because CrowdJustice takes pledges, and only collects on them if the target is reached.
If the pledges reach the target and the money collected is not in fact then needed, because the public body decides to settle the case at that point, CrowdJustice’s terms mean that the fund is returned to the charity to use in support of its longer term charitable purposes. Isn’t that great? We certainly think so, and it keeps us on track, and minded to stay bang up to date on what the law actually says, so we don’t raise anyone’s hopes, but do know when to take this extra step.
Here is an infographic of our third year statistics:
Our Twitter feed…
A charity aiming to open the floodgates to legal literacy, in the health and social care sector