Social services are failing to support most self-funders to find local care services, a survey by charity Leonard Cheshire Disability has found.
The report, published today to coincide with this week’s National Children and Adult Services Conference, found 63% of self-funders agreed that social services offered them little or no support in accessing care. And most people who paid for their own care package reported that they did not know where to start looking for services, how to assess whether the services were priced fairly or how to judge the quality of the care services.
The report said there was an “emerging concern” that the increasing number of self-funders were “having to navigate a market alone and without any guidance regarding value and quality”. This is contrary to the government’s vision of councils providing information and advice to all service users, regardless of whether their care is publicly funded, as laid out in last year’s care services white paper.
Sue Bott, director of service-user led disability charity the National Centre for Independent Living, said the Leonard Cheshire findings told a “not uncommon story”. Bott said there was a “cultural issue” at local authorities that must be challenged, where local citizens were divided into groups who were “deserving or undeserving” of support.
Jeff Jerome, joint chair of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services disabilities committee, said it was “fair” to say that support had not been as available as the association would have wished. But, Jerome said Adass was currently addressing this issue and, in the long-term, the government’s push to increase the use of individual budgets and direct payments for publicly-funded users would “create more consistency”.
The survey also noted there was a high number of people who funded their own care but fell into low income brackets, with almost one-third having an annual household income of less than £10,000. The charity said there was a real “danger” that people with moderate needs could be left without social care services because they could not afford to pay for them.
However, the survey of almost 350 care users, 44% of whom were self-funders, found 88% felt their lives would be “a lot worse” without social care services.