Widespread public confusion remains over how the adult care system works, two years after councils in England were set personalisation targets to improve information and advice for citizens, research has found.
A survey of 1,300 people by older people's charity Counsel and Care found only 5% believe the care system is easy to navigate, while 79% thought too little was done to tell people about their care options.
In September 2008, councils were set targets under the Putting People First programme to have a strategy to deliver universal information and advice services on care by April 2010 and to be delivering them by next month.
A separate survey, published in May by care information provider Opportunity Links, found four in 10 councils had missed the April 2010 target.
Counsel and Care found confusion over entitlements to care or assessments. More than four in 10 respondents did not think councils offered a free assessment of older people's needs, as they should do. Although seven in 10 believed their council would help them if they were physically disabled, only 53% thought they would receive help for mental health problems.
Just over half said they would turn to the local authority or social services for information on care for older people but seven in 10 said they would use the internet. Nearly two-thirds had not thought about how to fund their own care,
Counsel and Care policy manager Caroline Bernard said she believed impending cuts to public spending had played a part in preventing improvements in councils' advice services. She said they needed to be broader in their communication strategies when publicising social care and not rely on monthly magazines.
Mark Cheverton, managing director of Opportunity Links, said: "This research highlights once again that, without a strategic approach to information and advice, social care costs will only increase as people lack the support to make the best choices about their care."
However, council heads said information provision had improved.
"Anyone who has used services in the past year will have noticed an improvement in information," said David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association's community well-being board.
He said the complexity of the social care system was at the root of the problem and wholesale reform was necessary. He said councils had been focused on communicating how the system works to those using services but that local and central government needed to increase understanding of the system.
Source Community Care