Most English councils’ adult care services are ‘good’ or ‘excellent’

24 Nov 10
Councils in England are successfully keeping up adult social care standards, according to the Care Quality Commission.

By Vivienne Russell

25 November 2010

Councils in England are successfully keeping up adult social care standards, according to the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC today published its annual assessment of the social care services provided by England’s 152 top-tier and unitary councils. Of these, 95% were judged to be performing well or excellently. The number rated ‘excellent’ jumped from five in 2008/09 to 37 in 2009/10.

Just seven councils were rated ‘adequate’ and, for the seventh successive year, no councils were rated ‘poor’. The watchdog said these ‘adequate’ councils needed to improve their performance in all outcome areas.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: ‘Our experience is that good performance is the result of strong leadership and commitment by elected councillors and service managers, working together with a skilled and dedicated workforce.

‘They encourage people to be actively involved in shaping their own care packages, and they develop and commission the services that meet people’s individual needs.

‘The best-performing councils work closely with health agencies to deliver joined-up care, with joint commissioning and monitoring of services becoming more common. This year, partnership working was found to be a key strength in half of councils and an area for improvement in a third.’

The NHS Confederation said the findings ‘should not disguise the pressing need to find a long-term solution for the funding of social care, or the very real danger that the current spending settlement will mean councils will start making it tougher for people to receive the care they need’.

David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: ‘It’s testament to this dedication that the vast majority of town halls continually improve their services every year, giving more elderly and vulnerable people control of their own lives and independence. That 95% of local authorities have been assessed as performing excellently or well, and none were rated poor, is a great achievement.

‘But we can be in no doubt there will be very hard times in the years ahead as local government faces up to a multi-billion pound shortfall in its adult social care budget. Tough decisions will have to be made and councils will have to work harder than ever to keep building on this good record.’

Deputy director of policy Jo Webber said: ‘The CQC says three councils have plans next year to raise their eligibility criteria for social care – the big worry is that others will follow suit once they have had time to consider the impact of the cuts in funding they are having to bear.

‘The NHS should work closely with local authorities to ensure that the money set aside for social care, including the £2bn promised by the government in the CSR, is spent on social care and that we get the most value possible from it.’

This is the final time the CQC will publish an annual assessment of councils’ social care services. In November, the government announced that it was replacing the CQC’s assessments with a locally driven system.

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