Aftercare under Section 117 Mental Health Act
Anyone who may have a need for community care services is entitled to a social care assessment when they are discharged from hospital to establish what services they might need. However, Section 117 goes much further than this and imposes a duty on health and social services to provide aftercare services to certain patients who have been detained under the Mental Health Act.
Section 117 states that aftercare services must be provided to patients who have been detained in hospital:
- For treatment under Section 3
- Under a hospital order pursuant to Section 37 (with or without a restriction order) or
- Following transfer from prison under Section 47 or 48.
This also includes patients on authorised leave from hospital and patients who were previously detained under Section 3 but who stayed in hospital after discharge from section.
It also includes people who are living in the community subject to a community treatment order and restricted patients who have been conditionally discharged
However, Section 117 does not apply to:
- Patients detained in hospital for assessment under Section 2
- Patients detained in an emergency under Section 4
- Patients detained while already in hospital under Section 5(2)
- Patients who were not detained under any section (informal or voluntary patients).
Although Section 117 is predominantly used to deal with psychiatric illness it is also relevant to some dementia sufferers – particularly those who are mobile. In our experience Adult Social Care may speak to the family pushing them towards a care home and indicating that if this does not happen then that person is likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. What they do not make clear is that if that person is sectioned they are likely to receive free aftercare i.e. their placement is funded entirely by Adult Social Care without means testing. Conversely, if the family agree to a voluntary placement in a home then that is self-funding. It is the case that physically fit people with dementia are locked away in closed units and expected to pay for it even to the extent of having to sell their own home.
If you are unfortunate enough to have an elderly relative who might be in this position it is very important to take advice before any decision is made.