The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman have issued joint guidance on section 117 aftercare services (“the Guidance”), which is based on common errors seen in complaints made to them.
Section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983 requires local authority social service departments and CCGs to provide or arrange free aftercare to individuals detained under particular provisions of the Act. Such services will address a need related to the mental health condition, and can include for example, day centres, domiciliary services and residential care.
Section 117 aftercare often raises legal disputes, and practitioners will want to be aware of the guidance when dealing with such disputes, in addition to the Care and Support Guidance and Mental Health Act 1983 Code of Practice, and of course the underlying legislation.
The Guidance particularly refers to the following:
- Care planning and support. The Guidance cites the need to begin planning as soon as the person is admitted to hospital, and needs should have been addressed before a person is discharged from hospital. It sets out the requirements of particular individuals to be involved in care planning and the care plan, noting, in particular, that a care plan should be recorded in writing and a copy shared with the person.
- Funding. The Guidance recommends it is established at an early stage which body is responsible for funding which parts. Further, it makes reference to the principles and guidance governing which local authority and which CCG is responsible.
- Accommodation. The Guidance reminds practitioners that accommodation needs only fall within section 117 where it meets a need relating to the individual’s mental health condition. This should be addressed in the care plan.
- Ending section 117 aftercare. Aftercare should continue until both the local authority and CCG are satisfied the person no longer needs it. This is likely to be when their mental health has improved to the point where aftercare is no longer needed.
We remind local authorities and CCGs that disputes in relation to who is responsible can be referred to Landmark’s Who Pays? dispute resolution service.
Leon Glenister is an expert across public law, including health and social care law.