Last reviewed 16 January 2019

A report by Human Rights Watch has revealed that some older people have either been denied care services or had their care significantly cut due to unfair and “improper” care assessments.

Human Rights Watch stated: “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 2014.”

The human rights body interviewed 104 older people aged 58–94 and family carers in towns and cities across England, over two years. They said they were being denied crucial help such as home care support by care assessors who are conducting unfair care assessments. Human Rights Watch Researcher on Older People’s Rights Bethany Brown said: “Older people don’t always get fair assessments of the support they need to live dignified, independent lives.”

Some interviewees said care assessors did not understand their disabilities and support needs. They said sometimes assessors had announced a cut in services before even commencing their assessment, regardless of the person’s need.

Although some people told Human Rights Watch that they were able to appeal and get the social care they needed, the process often led to delays in receiving services and many described facing physical, psychological and financial hardships as a result.

There has been a 140% rise in social care complaints to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman since 2010, with social care assessments now among “the biggest areas of complaint”, according to the ombudsman’s annual report released last November. The report noted that the number of complaints indicated “problems with whole systems and policies” rather than “one-off mistakes”.

Human Rights Watch recommended that the Government “execute a plan” for the long-term stability and sustainability of the social care system “to ensure the human rights of older people are fully respected”.

The report, Unmet Needs: Improper Social Care Assessments for Older People in England, is available at