The Deafblind Specialist Assessment – getting you the right support
It is the end of Deafblind Awareness week. For some people in the community this means that they have become more aware of their rights as deafblind people. However, it appears that there is an awfully long way to go before deafblind people get the services they need.
A starting point in England is to ask your local authority for a deafblind specialist assessment.
There is specific legislation that applies to people who have a combined sight and hearing loss. This should make the process simple. However, there are occasions when the local authority may not be up to speed on such matters.
This is information to support Advocates of people with dual sensory loss, when challenging decisions made by the local authority.
As an adult who has combined sight and hearing loss which impacts on access to information, communication and mobility, the overarching piece of legislation that applies in the Care Act 2014. More specifically the Care and Support for Deafblind Children and Adults Policy Guidance as issued under section 78 of the Care Act 2014.
Local authorities must follow this guidance unless they can demonstrate legally sound reasons for not doing so.
In the Executive summary it states local authorities must:
- ensure that when an assessment of needs for care and support is carried out, this is done by a person or team that has specific training and expertise relating to Deafblind persons – in particular to assess the need for communication, one-to-one human contact, social interaction and emotional wellbeing, support with mobility assistive technology and habilitation/rehabilitation;
This is further explained in the following sections:
- “Any person carrying out an assessment must be appropriately trained”
- “Where the assessment relates to an adult who is Deafblind, it must be carried out by an assessor with specific training and expertise relating to those who are Deafblind”
- “Training should be of Qualifications and Credit Framework or the Open College Network level 3, or above where needs are higher or more complex”
What training qualifications?
According to the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) (http://www.scie.org.uk/training/careact/assessment-eligibility/specialist-deafblind-assessor3.asp) an OCN level 3 qualification meets the minimum standard for assessing people who have non complex deafblindness. Furthermore they qualify this statement with “primarily aimed at local authority social care staff responsible for the identification and assessment of older people with age-related deafblindness”.
An assessment completed by someone without the necessary expertise should warrant a complaint to the local authority.
Getting the right support
The executive summary makes it clear that local authorities must:
- ensure services provided to Deafblind people are appropriate, recognising that they may not necessarily be able to benefit from mainstream services or those services aimed primarily at blind people or deaf people who are able to rely on their other senses;
Again, this is clarified in part 36 of the guidance.
Moreover in point 38. “Local authorities will want to ensure that they are able to access the services of specifically trained one-to-one support workers (eg: communicator guides, intevenors, language service professionals) for adults…for those people they assess as requiring one”
Challenge the local authority on this. If they have said you would benefit from a communicator guide, make sure you are provided with one.
I need support to challenge a decision
Unfortunately we are unable to act as an advocate. Get a copy of your deafblind specialist assessment. Get a copy of the local authority decision process. Then use an advocacy service. Follow the local authority complaints procedure. Contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, if you are still unhappy (http://www.lgo.org.uk/adult-social-care).