Fewer than half of people with dementia who use social care services are getting the regular care reviews they are entitled to, Healthwatch England has warned.
Under the Care Act, which came into force in April 2015, councils must ensure that their social care services are responsive to the specific needs of individual patients. In order to achieve this, people’s care plans must be reviewed at least once a year.
However, new figures gathered through Freedom of Information Act requests show that councils across England are struggling to meet these requirements – with those with dementia worst affected.
Healthwatch, a statutory body set up to defend patients’ rights, asked 152 councils across England with social care responsibilities about reviews and reassessments for people with dementia.
Of the 97 authorities that provided information, it was found that only 45% of people with dementia got a care review in 2017/18.
It also found that 65% of people with dementia who had a review were referred for a full assessment. However, half of these reassessments led to no change in the level of care and support.
One third of people with dementia, using long-term care services did not receive any review, whether planned or unplanned, the study revealed.
Imelda Redmond, national director of Healthwatch England, said: “Reviews and assessments are about more than just ticking boxes on a form. Over half of reviews for people with dementia were missed by councils last year, so we simply don’t know if people are getting the support they need.
“The fact that councils are struggling to meet the Care Act requirement to deliver care reviews should provide a real wake-up call to us all.”
Healthwatch has recommended that councils ensure that everyone with a diagnosis of dementia, with eligible care and support needs in accordance with Care Act guidance, has a personalised care plan in place, which should be subject to at least one planned review per year.
The organisation explained that the local government needs to “get better” at capturing and using data to know whether they are compliant with the Care Act, and that the Department of Health and Social Care should review national eligibility thresholds and how consistently they are being used, to ensure that all reviews and reassessments have fair and accurate outcomes.
Describing the findings as ‘downright appalling’ Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society chief executive officer, added: “Decades of squeezed government funding has left the social care system on its knees. With one person developing dementia every three minutes in the UK, we need the government to deliver a long-term funding plan urgently, before the whole system buckles under the strain.”