More MS news articles for July 2002

Social services "failing people with MS"

Tuesday July 16, 12:50 PM

Social care services and the benefits system in the UK are failing people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a report by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The society recently released a report entitled "Square Pegs, Round Holes", which asked more than 1,200 people with MS and their carers how effectively social services met their needs.

The report found that nearly 70 per cent of people with MS said they did not have a key care manager or social worker, and 30 per cent said their social care provider failed to adequately assess their needs when their condition changed.

Around 55 per cent of people with progressive MS and 41 per cent of those with relapsing remitting MS said Disability Living Allowance (DLA) took little account of the fluctuating nature of the disease.

Society Chief Executive Mike O'Donovan said, "The most worrying thing we have found in both social care and benefits is a lack of flexibility or ability to adapt to changes in someone's condition. All too often this means changing care needs are not being met or appropriate benefits given."

In addition, the report found that people with MS had a low uptake of social care services. Only 9 per cent had used counselling services, only 4 per cent befriending services, 14 per cent respite care and 4 per cent employment advice. Only one service, wheelchair provision, was used by more than half of those surveyed.

The report also revealed that some areas in the UK have a severe shortage of MS nurses and occupational therapists, who play an important role in assessment for certain services.

Mr Donovan added, "This report shows that much more needs to be done. In particular, GPs and DLA assessors need training in the changing nature of MS to avoid people being given unsuitable care packages."

The society is now calling on the government to take note of the report and work towards developing high quality standards of care for everybody affected by MS.

Multiple Sclerosis is the most common neurological disorder among young adults, according to the MS society, with around 85,000 people in the UK affected by the condition.

© Health Media Ltd 2002