A MAJOR REPORT into the quality and safety of adult social care services in England shows that sector-led improvement – the means by which local authorities review each others’ performance – is working well. However social care leaders have warned that “there are no grounds for complacency for either central or local government” in the report’s findings.
The report*, published jointly by the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social Services, shows that:
* Social care related quality of life is improving
* The proportion of people who say they have control over their daily life increased between 2011/12 and 2013/14.
* The proportion of people using social care who receive self-directed support and those who receive direct payments is increasing. However, reflecting the austerity of the age, the number of people receiving care is reducing year on year.
* The proportion of adults with learning disabilities who live in their own home or with their family and those in contact with secondary mental health services who live independently is improving.
* Some 44.5 per cent of people who used services reported that they had as much social contact as they would like.
However, the report also highlights areas where more work is required, including working with local employers to help more adults with learning disabilities and those in contact with secondary mental health services to gain paid employment.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Local government has been consistently arguing for improvements to the health and social care system on behalf of local people to make it sustainable for the 21st century and this report reflects how councils are best placed to join up and improve local health and social care services.
“Huge efforts have been made by local authorities under immense pressure to put people at the heart of their care over the last year and this report demonstrates the many benefits that councils working together can bring. Local authorities have demonstrated that despite struggling to meet growing demand, increasing costs and cuts to services, people remain content with the services they receive.
“We know more still needs to be done and this report provides valuable insights about how council leaders and their local partners can continue to work together to make services better.”
In light of current pressures within the A&E services, there is good news too concerning social care’s contribution to delayed transfers of care (DTOCs) from hospital to home. The rate of delayed transfers of care from hospital per 100,000 population, although slightly lower than in 2011/12 has increased slightly on last year.
However the report shows that the rate of delayed transfers which are attributable to adult social care has continued to decrease from 4.1 per 100,000 population in 2010/11 to 3.1 per 100,000 population in 2013/14.
Equally, the overall satisfaction of people who use adult social care services with their care and support, while showing no change over the last year, has improved over the last two years. And:
* The proportion of people who use services who find it easy to find information a about services has remained steady over the last few years.
* The proportion of people who use services who feel safe and those who say that those services have made them feel safe and secure are both showing improvement year on year.
David Pearson, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said: “It is important to give credit and celebrate the many positive messages from this report. In relation to the areas evaluated, the achievements of social care are considerable. In context it is perhaps not too strong to say they are remarkable, a tribute to the determination and ingenuity of local authorities and the many thousands of providers who have helped to make this happen.”
He warned, though. That the picture of social care provided must be seen in today’s financial context. “There are more funding reductions planned and more pressure on social care services as a result of NHS pressures.
“There are, however, no grounds for complacency for either central or local government. The report highlights that there are still considerable regional and local variations in some key areas of delivery. There may be particular circumstances which explain this, but it does provide a challenge for the sector to work together to help ensure consistency across regions, and a reduction in the level of variation from the best.”
He went on: “It would be a mistake to assume that past experience is an indicator of future success as needs rise and resources continue to reduce. We need to be fully aware of concerns about the quality of some care provided, and the need to pay due attention to the poor training and remuneration of many social care workers.