Social workers criticised for not signposting disabled people to support options

Service users also report a lack of opportunity to assess their own needs, finds survey commissioned by charity Scope

Social workers are failing to signpost disabled and older people to relevant sources of support during assessment, according to a significant minority of service users.

Forty one per cent of people surveyed disagreed that they had been pointed to relevant alternative support at their most recent assessment or review, found research commissioned by disability charity Scope. Just over a quarter (27%) said they were signposted.

In addition, 40% said disagreed that they were offered the opportunity for self-assessment, found the survey of 229 people in receipt of social care conducted between October and December last year.

More positively, the research found that:

  • 45% of service users said they felt listened to during the assessment, while 26% disagreed;
  • 45% felt the assessment took into consideration their family assessments, though 30% disagreed
  • 44% said the assessor explained things clearly to them, while 25% disagreed
  • 42% said they only had to explain their needs once, while 30% disagreed;
  • 41% said the assessment considered their long-term, as well as their short-term, needs, while 32% disagreed.

The research, for campaign coalition the Care and Support Alliance, was conducted to assess the impact of the government’s proposed national eligibility threshold, that will be enacted through the Care Bill, on access to care and support.

Last year, the government published draft regulations on the threshold, which is supposed to be equivalent to the existing ‘substantial’ threshold under the Prioritising need in the context of Putting People First guidance used by the vast majority of councils.

However, while the CSA, which includes the major disability and older people’s charities, have campaigned for a lower threshold, equivalent to the existing ‘moderate’ band, council leaders have warned that the government’s proposal is already closer to the ‘moderate’ than ‘substantial’ band.

The research by Scope also included two focus groups, one with a group of 10 people with autism spectrum disorders and their carers, and the other with a group of 12 learning disabled people, and nine interviews with disabled people.

These identified concerns that communication needs and needs for social contact were not reflected in the regulations. Also, disabled people raised concerns about how social workers and other assessors would interpret the regulations.

In particular, the draft regulations refer to eligibility being based on there being a “significant risk to any aspect of the adult’s well-being” as a result of them being unable to carry out any basic personal care or household activities, access necessary services or engage in work or training.

“Respondents expressed a concern with how ‘significant risk’ might be interpreted as a person’s level of eligibility will be determined by an assessor’s interpretation of ‘significant risk’ to wellbeing,” said the report on the research findings.

Scope said this meant that the language used in the final regulations needed to be much clearer.




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