28 November 2008
By Paul Dicken Five council-provided adult social care services remain a ‘priority for improvement’ after receiving poor scores for the sixth year running, the social care watchdog has said. The Commission for Social Care Inspection published its final set of ratings for adult care services on November 27. It said services had improved at 28 councils since 2006, with services deteriorating at 11 – 7% of all inspected authorities. From next April, the CSCI’s role will be absorbed in the new Care Quality Commission. Last year, the CSCI identified 21 councils that had received an ‘inadequate’ or merely ‘adequate’ overall rating for services since 2002. Nine of these improved sufficiently to move out of the ‘priority for improvement’ council category in 2007, and a further seven this year. The five remaining councils – the London boroughs of Harrow and Havering, Herefordshire County Council, Lincolnshire County Council and Walsall Metropolitan Council – received one-star ‘adequate’ ratings for 2008. But Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill rejected the ruling, describing it as ‘adrift of reality’. He said it did not reflect the efforts staff had made to improve provision and called for the CSCI verdict to be withdrawn and replaced with a ‘proper and competent assessment’. David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said the report had shown that the best performing councils had strong management and leadership. He said: ‘The active involvement of people receiving care, carers and staff in shaping and developing services has ensured that effective systems are in place to safeguard people from abuse, neglect or poor treatment. The next step is to ensure all authorities provide such excellent services.’ Help the Aged’s senior policy officer, Elizabeth McLennan, said it was ‘disappointing to see that, although many councils have improved, some are still to make progress after three consecutive years of the lowest possible rating’. She said the greater concern was the large number of people who continued to be excluded from council-funded and arranged care because of the stringent qualification criteria.