Are people waiting too long to be assessed for social care support?
This is the question we are working with local Healthwatch to find out.
Part of the role of Healthwatch England is to look into the concerns you share with local Healthwatch and ensure these views are heard by those who run health and care services.
Over the last few years, local Healthwatch have raised a range of issues – from people having a poor experience of leaving hospital to waiting times for gender identity services – which we have explored in more detail and then shared with national policy makers.
The question we are currently looking at is whether or not people are having to wait too long to be assessed for social care support.
What are social care assessments?
People often need extra help because of a disability or ill health. This support is often needed by older people in particular.
However, before you can access social care support most people must have their needs assessed by their local authority.
A number of local Healthwatch have reported concerns that people in their community have been waiting too long for their assessment to take place. Now we want to find out how widespread the issue is across England.
What do we know so far?
Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Healthwatch Isle of Wight both raised concerns that those with care needs were experiencing delays with their initial assessments and the implementation of care packages. Reports also suggested that local authorities were not conducting regular reviews.
In Cambridgeshire, people told their local Healthwatch that waiting timing vary hugely across the county with older people in particular waiting increasingly long times for their assessments, in some cases waiting up to 47 weeks.
Meanwhile, on the Isle of Wight, people told their local Healthwatch about delays in getting adult social care plan reviews completed. Healthwatch Isle of Wight contacted their local authority to request details of the scale of the problem and found that some reviews were taking longer than 12 months to be completed.
Thanks to the work of local Healthwatch, Cambridge County Council has now recruited extra staff which is helping to reduce waiting times and the new Isle of Wight Director of Adult Services has developed a robust plan to clear the backlog of care reviews.
What are we doing?
It is difficult to get a national picture of this issue, as data around delays in social care assessments or reviews are currently hard to assess at a national level.
We want to find out how widespread the issue is and, if necessary, bring this to the attention of those who make decisions about social care policy.
As a first step, we are working with local Healthwatch to find out whether other areas are also experiencing similar problems.
How you can help
If you or someone you know has experienced a delay in receiving a social care assessment, please get in touch with your local Healthwatch to share your story.