Report Says Councils Must Change The Way They Commission Social Care Services

A new report by the Commission for Social Care Inspection says that if personalised care is to become a reality, current ways of commissioning services will have to change. ‘Relentless optimism – creative commissioning for personalised care’ is based on a policy seminar hosted by CSCI in May 2006 to challenge current thinking on commissioning, identify barriers to personalised services and propose creative solutions.

Among the issues discussed were the qualities that people who use services value, emerging issues from the Individual Budget pilots and lessons from the commercial sector.

CSCI Chair Dame Denise Platt commented: “Commissioning is at the heart of effective social care. It offers an opportunity to transform people’s lives through better services – it’s not simply about procedures and processes.

“But while some councils are taking a strategic approach to commissioning a wide range of services that enable people to live their lives to the full, too many are still commissioning the same traditional profile of services, with too strong a focus on residential care.”

Dame Denise added: “Getting it right will require new ways of working and thinking. Using the commissioning process to make services better for people will depend on commissioners being willing to exercise their imagination and take risks. Councils need to find out what people want and involve them in developing services that are based on people’s real experiences and flexible enough to meet people’s changing needs.”

The report concludes with a series of questions for further discussion and debate by local councils and national policy-makers.

These include who will carry the risk in developing new, innovative services; what will effective joint commissioning with the NHS look like in future; and how will value for money be ensured when individual people make their own decisions about how to allocate their own budgets.