Ageism probe urges councils to review care assessments

Councils have been urged to review their adult social care assessment procedures to ensure they are not discriminating against older people.

The call came in a Department of Health-commissioned review on applying the proposed ban on age discrimination, included in the Equality Bill, to the health and social care sectors.

Its key recommendation – accepted yesterday by health secretary Andy Burnham – was to implement the ban in the two sectors at the same time as in other industries, in 2012.

Care packages ‘more extensive’ for younger adults

The review, carried out by Bristol Council chief executive Jan Ormondroyd and NHS South West head Ian Carruthers, said it had heard evidence that care assessments were leading to more extensive packages for younger adults than older people.

It said councils should consider using common assessment procedures for all client groups and ensure their processes were compliant with the planned legislation.

Other proposals included for mental health commissioners and providers to consider how they can achieve non-discriminatory, age-appropriate services.

No inherent discrimination

The review said the traditional divide in services between working-age and older adults was not inherently discriminatory but its “unintended” consequence had been a disparity in service provision between the two client groups.

A report this month by the Royal College of Psychiatrists called for the divide to be scrapped – a position not adopted by the review – on the basis that it was leading to services being delivered on the basis of age, not need.

Yesterday’s report also called on the DH to conduct a review by 2012 of the system for distributing money to local authorities for adult social care. This is based on two formulae, one covering younger adults and another covering older people, both of which take account of deprivation, population numbers and local market costs.

Distribution of funding warning

The review warned that the relative weighting given to each formula had been based on historic spending on younger adults and older people respectively by councils, meaning unfair disparities between the two groups were potentially being perpetuated.

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