Care services minister Ivan Lewis (pictured) today ordered a review of eligibility criteria for adult care after a Commission for Social Care Inspection report exposed the poor plight of those denied council support.
Lewis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that CSCI had revealed that rules governing access to publicly-funded care varied between and even within councils, while many people in need were not getting help.
He said the system of national rules interpreted by local authorities, under the fair access to care services system, had “led to unintended consequences” and needed to be re-examined.
He said: “It can’t be right if people are only getting help once they’ve deteriorated and are getting sick.”
Lewis also said that people who funded their own care were being left without help in navigating the system.
Besides exposing the extent of the postcode lottery, CSCI’s third state of social care report today said the number of people denied publicly-funded care was increasing and many in this group had a poor quality of life.
Poor quality of life
CSCI chair Denise Platt said: “People who only five years ago qualified for council-arranged help are today excluded by the system and left to fend for themselves. The poor experiences of people and their carers trying and failing to get sufficient help contrast starkly with those people who do qualify for council-arranged care.”
CSCI estimated that in 2006-7, 6,000 older people with high support needs, and 275,000 with less intensive needs received no services and had no informal care.
As of April this year, 73% of councils will only be supporting those deemed to have substantial or critical needs, under the fair access to care system.
People with substantial needs are likely to be unable to carry out the majority of personal care tasks and could be at risk of abuse.
Lack of government funding
The Local Government Association blamed a lack of government funding for the situation.
David Rogers, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “Councils want to provide the excellent standard of care people need and deserve, but they have been hamstrung because there is not enough money in the system to cope with rising levels of demand.”