COMMUNITY CARE / Disabled face 'secret care rationing': Study finds staff exploit ignorance of clients

SOCIAL SERVICES staff responsible for assessing people's needs under the new community care system are secretly rationing services they consider would be too expensive or difficult to provide, and failing to record when needs cannot be met, a survey published yesterday claims.

Financed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the study examined assessment practices involving disabled people in a metropolitan borough and a shire county.

The report says: 'The means by which social service workers ration the care and services available are often covert, making it impossible for disabled recipients to challenge them.'

The researcher, Kathryn Ellis, from Birmingham University, found:

There was a strong temptation for practitioners to use most users' lack of knowledge as a way of limiting the assistance on offer.

Disabled people who appeared knowledgeable were labelled


Among the services assessors were especially likely to try to ration were home care and occupational therapy.

Practitioners overestimated the preparedness of the users' relations and social network to provide informal care.

The report said: 'Those turned down felt humiliated, angry, or cynical about the claims of community care.'

Squaring the Circle: User and carer participation in needs assessment, Joseph Rowntree Foundation pounds 6.50

Modest expectations, page 10

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