Leonard Cheshire Disability today called for all disabled people to be guaranteed a minimum package of care based on need, not means, in a report illustrating the devastating impact on the group of the withdrawal of services.
The study, based on interviews with 35 disabled people who had seen care services withdrawn, found over one-third had gone into debt, over half had experienced accidents or further illnesses and 82% found it had adversely affected their mental health and well-being.
The report is designed to influence the Department of Health’s green paper on the future of adult care, particularly its funding, and the Commission for Social Care Inspection’s DH-commissioned review of eligibility criteria in England.
Poverty and worklessness
The charity’s head of policy and campaigns, John Knight, said the report particularly illustrated the impact of the withdrawal of care on poorer disabled people, who could not pay for care privately. Two-thirds of the sample, drawn from people who had responded to advertisements and others known to the charity, earned £15,000 or less and just 9% were in work.
Though an estimated 50% of disabled people are in employment nationally, they are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people.
The report said the tightening of eligibility criteria for care – 73% of English councils will not be funding services for those with ‘moderate’ needs as of next month – contradicted the government’s emphases on promoting independence for disabled people and getting them into work.
It said: “Those people with ‘moderate’ social care needs who might lose their social care because of tightening criteria could be the very same people who might be able to return to work with some support.”
Not consulted or listened to by councils
The report also found that three-quarters were not consulted on changes to their social care package, while over half were not told about the possibility of losing their services after a re-assessment. Twenty one per cent felt they had been lied to, while a “recurring theme” was that people felt they were branded “trouble makers” for challenging decisions.
John Knight also warned that the government’s emphasis on personalisation and choice in social care could raise expectations that could not be fulfilled because of tightening eligibility criteria – a scenario he described as “really dangerous”.
He added: “People are saying to me that they would like a direct payment and they go and knock on the door of social services and people say ‘you can’t have a direct payment’.”
Chimes with CSCI state of social care report
CSCI’s director of strategy, David Walden, who is leading on the eligibility criteria review, said Leonard Cheshire Disability’s findings chimed with those of its third state of social care report, which exposed the plight of those denied publicly-funded social care and prompted the DH to call the review.
He added: “This report is therefore timely and we will take it into account in our review of the fair access to care services criteria.”