Doubts over revised adult services eligibility guidance

Concerns have been raised about Department of Health plans to revise the system for determining eligibility for adult social care.

There was widespread uncertainty among respondents to a DH consultation on revising the Fair Access to Care Services guidance on some of the key principles behind the proposed reforms.

For instance, 29% of respondents thought the draft revised guidance was not sufficiently integrated with the personalisation agenda, while 48% were uncertain on this point.

And 21% felt that it did not sufficiently explain the need for councils to implement strategies to prevent people requiring social care, while 48% were uncertain on this issue.

A majority of respondents (52%) backed the retention of the current ‘low’ band for people with lower-level needs, which the DH had proposed to remove. Very few councils set their eligibility threshold at ‘low’.

Eighty-eight per cent of respondents said they foresaw impacts on councils or people seeking support that were not identified by the guidance, though this answer was not broken down into positive or negative effects.

There were also concerns about the clarity of the guidance for both health and social care professionals. Some respondents proposed that a shorter version of eligibility be made available to make it more accessible for service users.

Knowsley Council’s response was that “eligibility for social care is a difficult area for people to understand – both practitioners and people seeking support. The revised guidance is well structured and the messages consistent. However, in its present form, it is unlikely to be suitable for everyone.”

The DH said the draft had been revised to reflect some of the comments and final guidance would be published by February 2010. It also said that the Social Care Institute for Excellence would be producing toold to help councils implement the guidance by April 2010.

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