Posted on 11/01/2019 by David Burgess
Central government does not have “sufficient oversight” of social care needs assessments across England, an NGO has said.
The government should establish a system to promote nationwide “consistency and equality” in social care needs assessments, according to a Human Rights Watch report out yesterday.
The NGO interviewed 104 people in England regarding their social care experience, including 27 people between the ages of 58 and 94, and 20 family caregiver. It found “a lack of sufficient oversight and monitoring of assessments to ensure consistent and accuracy and objectivity”.
In some cases, Human Rights Watch found that assessors appeared not to understand claimants’ disabilities and support needs. One claimant said her assessment contained “stark inaccuracies” and made her out to be more able-bodied than she was.
Other cases showed that assessors had announced, before beginning assessments, that services would be cut regardless of the individual’s actual need. In one example given, the assessor blamed reduction in care on funding cuts to local government.
“Older people do not always get fair assessments of the support they need to live dignified, independent lives,” said Bethany Brown, researcher on older people’s rights at Human Rights Watch.
She added: “Older people’s health and wellbeing can be harmed if they do not get the services they are entitled to.”
Human Rights Watch recommended that the UK government should ensure that older people receive the support they need and are entitled to by regularly monitoring social care assessments to ensure accuracy and fairness, and that services continue during appeals.
The report found that although some claimants appealed the outcome of their assessments, their services were cut before the appeal decision was decided. In some cases, local authorities said that there was no appeals process for social care assessments.
Brown said: “Many older people in England desperately need these services and have no alternatives, so serious cuts to social services funding and an improper assessment can cause tangible risks to their health and wellbeing.
“Oversight is a crucial part of a properly functioning system, and the UK government should make sure that local authorities consistently conduct fair and accurate assessments and deliver appropriate services.”
The NGO suggested that local authorities should document clearly the specific reasons to justify services being safely reduced or eliminated.
Human Rights Watch noted that the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman 2018 report showed a 140% rise in social care complaints since 2010 and found that social care assessments are now the biggest area of complaint.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.