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Unmet Needs: Improper Social Care Assessments for Older People in England

[They] just came in with an agenda of cutting my 15 hours per week to 6.5. They announced it. They told me 'We are not there to give you more, but we are going to cut it.' They had worked out  that that was what I needed [before they arrived].- Mary Redman, 76, December 2017

Older people in England like Mary Redman can face considerable challenges in accessing the social services which they need to live independent, dignified lives, and to which they are entitled. In interviews with Human Rights Watch in 2017 and 2018, older people expressed concerns with how local officials determined their eligibility for social support. Such services include in-home assistance such as preparing meals, dressing, and bathing. In some cases, older people told Human Rights Watch that they were denied crucial services or had services significantly reduced, causing their health and wellbeing to decline.

Some of those interviewed said that assessors  appeared  not to understand  their disabilities and social care needs. In other cases, before beginning an assessment, assessors announced that services would be cut regardless of an individual's actual need.

Under England's Care Act 2014, any individual who meets financial and needs criteria is entitled to government-supported social support, known as social care. These services aim to promote wellbeing and independence, in addition to health and safety, by "supporting people to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible."

Based on interviews with 104 people, this report documents improper assessments for individual older people's social care in England, and the lack of oversight from the national government, which is responsible for implementation of the Care Act. The report focuses on England, as each nation in the United Kingdom has its own social care system. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, the number of people in England aged 65 and over is projected to increase by over 20 percent over the next 10 years.