Older people express concerns over social care support

Elderly woman with walking stick at home

Older people have spoken of their concerns in how local officials determine their eligibility for social care support.

In interviews carried out by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2017 and 2018, people told the global non-profit organisation they were being denied services or had them significantly reduced, causing their health and wellbeing to decline. 

They said that assessors did not understand their disabilities and social care needs, and announced that services would be cut regardless of actual need.

While some of the people HRW interviewed were able to appeal and get the social care they were entitled to, the process often led to delays in receiving services, with many facing physical, psychological, and financial hardship, its report said.

Dominic Carter, Alzheimer’s Society senior policy officer, told HRW: ‘Lots of people living with dementia are living alone. Making a formal appeal can be too much, and they deteriorate because the [new] package [of care] is not right. Declines can be quick.’

Among its recommendations for central and local governments, the organisation said older people should have access to services they need to live independently; social care needs assessments must be consistent nationally; the impact of austerity measures on local authority social care provision should be examined; and individuals should be fully informed of their rights and available options to appeal assessment decisions.

As part of the research, HRW interviewed 27 older people between the ages of 58 and 94 and 20 family carers in 11 local government authorities in England. It also interviewed 51 representatives of non-governmental organisations and charities, as well as lawyers, service providers, academics, policy experts, and NHS and clinical commissioning group staff.