S117 aftercare

Is anyone aware of any judgements or rulings made relating to cases where S117 aftercare support has not been recorded as such?

I vaguely remember one ombudsman case in which the LA was fined for not having recorded a S117 aftercare plan if anyone has the link to this? But I’m also specifically interested in situations where people have Care Act assessments/support plans rather than S117 ones, where they are eligible for this? Or where they have been mistakenly charged for contributions towards care when they should have received this free due to S117 eligibility?

This decision is helpful:

London Borough of Lewisham ([20 006 910](tel:20 006 910)) [2021] MHLO 5

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If you have not found them already then I suggest looking at the S117 posts on the Masked AMHP blog. (would put a link but only allowed 2 as a new user)

S117 aftercare is sometimes managed via Care Act 2014 especially if the patient is discharged from secondary mental health services. This appears to have happened in this recent ombudsman case. https://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/health/mental-health-services/21-003-925. This local authority appears to have been particularly incompetent. They did not have a register of people subject to S117 and did not understand what aftercare they were providing. The trust was also apparently incompetent as it failed to follow its own policy which requires a S117 review every 6 months. The result was no S117 reviews ever.

There are not many local authority S117 policies online but this one may be worth reading to see how a local authority should discharge its responsibilities. Section-117-Protocol-reviewed-Dec-2018.pdf (londonadass.org.uk)

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Thank you! The ombudsman case is interesting as it does mention what I’m looking for, the fact that the LA didn’t seem to quite know what role it was playing despite actually doing the right thing!

I wasn’t sure if I was being pedantic or not, but I dislike when assessments refer both to the Care Act and S117 aftercare. They’re two very different pieces of legislation and whilst I don’t mind the Care Act eligibility outcomes supporting the identification of social care needs, we’re still not using the Care Act so it shouldn’t me mentioned in assessments (unless of course there are clearly separate CA and S117 needs).

regarding Care Act and section 117, the way I have always understood it, is that the local authority assesses needs under the Care Act and the section 117 acts as a “pass-key” to the Care Act eligibility test and charging for services, which by virtue of section 117 do not apply.

Hi, I think this conflation of Care Act and S117 is where LAs can get themselves into problems. Social workers (and often their managers) are so used to assessing needs through the framework of the Care Act, that they often forget, or just don’t realise, that S117 is a wholly separate but equally binding legal authority without the same criteria. LAs using the Care Act as a gateway to S117 eligibility will be running the risk of denying people access to free aftercare to which they are eligible. Although the recent ruling saying that holidays can be provided via the Care Act may see a general broadening of needs seen as eligible under the Care Act. R (BG) v Suffolk County Council [2022] EWCA Civ 1047 - Mental Health Law Online

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As Nick said, I personally think this conflation happens a lot either because social workers are not confident in the differences, or simply because LA standardised forms all refer to CA outcomes. The MHA code of practice does actually state “After-care for all patients admitted to hospital for treatment for mental disorder should be planned within the framework of the care programme approach” (p33.1).
From that, I would understand that aftercare would be better assessed and planned using the headings we use in CPA plans. What do others think?

I agree with Nick regarding the risks of conflating Care Act and s117, and frequently hear social workers referring to Care Act assessments and eligibility for people where s117 applies. However, Care Act documentation provides a useful assessment tool for social care need as long as the assessor is clear that the eligibility hurdles are not necessary.
However, the Care Act domains tend to focus on practical issues (though not entirely) and are not sufficient, and must also include all of the risk issues around potential relapse.
The problem with CPA is that it’s on its last legs and seems to have little if any credibility any more. I’m concerned that CPA documentation will miss much of the social care focus, so perhaps there is a need for some hybrid documentation, which may have the additional advantage of constantly reminding everyone of the presence of the s117 aftercare duty.

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