Human Rights Watch report into social care assessments - Alzheimer's Society comments

Posted On: 
10th January 2019

Older people in England, including with dementia, are at risk of not getting enough help to live independent, dignified lives because of inequalities with assessments for social services, according to a Human Rights Watch report released today.

The new report, “Unmet Needs: Improper Social Care Assessments for Older People in England,” says the Government must ensure local authorities are carrying out fair, accurate and consistent assessments in order to deliver appropriate services and uphold older people’s rights to live well in the community.

Sally Copley, Director of Policy Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This report shows how utterly unfair the social care assessment process can be if you have dementia, and how often people living with dementia have their rights breached when they subsequently don’t get the social care they need.  Many of the ‘Dementia Statements’, which we developed with people affected by the disease to articulate their human rights, are being trampled on through poor training and cost-cutting – including the fundamental right to family life, to be included in communities, and to receive appropriate, compassionate and properly funded care wherever they live.

“We’ve seen a steep rise in people contacting us over the last year, and heard shocking reports about assessors not even having a basic knowledge of dementia, which is completely unacceptable when they hold such power over a person future and quality of life. We’ve also heard of people whose lives have been put on hold, while they go through courts to reverse wrong decisions – an unimaginable strain on top of living with dementia.

“It’s a false economy - people with dementia ending up in costly hospital or care home admissions when they could have stayed at home for longer if they’d had the right support in place.

“Our Fix Dementia Care campaign is calling for everyone with dementia to have access to the care they need. We’ve been waiting over a year to hear the Government’s plan for overhauling social care. Every day we wait the rights of people with dementia are being denied.”

Report case study Joy Watson, 59, who lost support when a social care assessment failed to recognise her dementia symptoms and how they affect her daily life, is available for media interviews.

Joy, 59, who lives near Manchester, was diagnosed with dementia in 2013. Although dementia is a progressive disease and so Joy will only need more help as time goes on, a social care reassessment in 2016 reduced the support she received, forcing Joy to borrow money just to pay the bills while she spent months appealing the decision in court.

Joy said: “The person doing the assessment didn’t know anything about dementia. She was very keen to know whether I could dress myself or walk, but she didn’t take into account any of my dementia symptoms. I lost all my benefits, my husband lost his carer’s allowance, my son was paying our bills. For seven months, my life went on hold, and I didn’t know what our future was.”

During the embargo period, “Unmet Needs: Improper Social Care Assessments for Older People in England” is available at: