Watchdog claims social care progress is ‘patchy’_2

29 Jan 09
Progress on the government’s plans to radically transform social care services has been patchy, the outgoing care watchdog said this week

30 January 2009

By Vivienne Russell

Progress on the government's plans to radically transform social care services has been patchy, the outgoing care watchdog said this week.

In its fourth and final report on the state of social care in England, the Commission for Social Care Inspection said it was unclear how ministers' plan for personalised care services, centred on the needs of users, was going to be implemented.

CSCI chair Dame Denise Platt said that while the government's vision was to be commended, there was still a long way to go to turn policy into practice. 'While some councils and care providers are doing truly excellent work, others have been reluctant, for whatever reason, to make personalised care a reality for the people they serve,' she said.

'Many people do not get the information, advice or support they need to help them make informed choices about their care.'

The report, published on January 27, made a particular study of people with multiple and complex needs. It concluded that their individual requirements were not being catered for as well as they should.

'With this group, a lot remains to be done to make personalised support a reality,' Platt said.

While individual budgets, which allow service users to design and put together their own care packages, had worked well, Platt said they tended to be concentrated on people with straightforward needs. 'The next few years are a crucial time for social care. This is unfinished business for us, and if we were continuing we would want to pursue this.'

From April, the CSCI will cease to exist and its responsibilities will be taken over by the new Care Quality Commission.

The Local Government Association said councils were trying their best to provide the best level of care for their residents but were frustrated by a lack of resources.

David Rogers, chair of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: 'Councils want to provide the services vulnerable people deserve, but the resources available are letting them down.

'There needs to be a thorough root and branch review of care for the elderly, including how it is provided, managed and funded. There is no point fiddling around at the edges when what is needed is a revolution in social care.'

Commenting on the report, care services minister Phil Hope said: 'I want us to press forward with further improvements. We are investing over £500m to tailor more services to individual needs. We will help councils spread best practice quickly so that more can share the benefits of personalising service.

'I'm confident that the Care Quality Commission will continue to raise standards and that the forthcoming [social care] green paper will help bring about fundamental reform and create a care and support system fit for the twenty-first century.'


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