A social work leader has urged councils to back practitioners in challenging primary care trust decisions that deny full-funded long-term care to people with significant needs.
Ruth Cartwright , professional officer for England at the British Association of Social Workers, made the comments following the publication this week of the government’s national framework on continuing care.
She said “I’m disappointed that social services have not stood up against decisions [historically]. The service user is often not in a state to kick up a fuss and the relatives are bewildered by what happens. A lot of social workers do their best.”
People whose need for long-term care arises primarily from a health condition should receive continuing care, meaning all care services and accommodation are paid for by PCTs. However campaigners have long maintained that significant numbers of nursing home residents are wrongly excluded, with councils and users picking up the tab.
The framework outlines a four-stage appeals process for people denied continuing care: to a PCT panel, a strategic health authority independent review panel, then the Healthcare Commission and finally the health ombudsman.
While PCTs and councils have come to blows over continuing care decisions in the past year, amid council accusations of cost-shunting, Jeff Jerome, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services disabilities committee, suggested there was more councils could do on behalf of users denied funding.
He said: “There’s a citizenship role about us advising people of their rights.”
He said Adass was “almost certain” to produce guidance on the new framework for councils, which is likely to include advice on challenging decisions, in conjunction with the DH.
However, he welcomed last week’s framework as a “huge step in the right direction”, by increasing the numbers eligible and replacing existing regional eligibility criteria with a national standard.
The Department of Health said it would increase the number of recipients in England from 31,000 to over 36,000. However, Age Concern claimed 100,000 people should be eligible.