Adult care improves despite rising demand

Adult care services are continuing to improve despite huge pressures on staff and rising demand according to the Care Quality Commission’s report today.

A total of 95% of councils responsible for adult care were either performing excellently (37) or well (108) especially in London boroughs and counties. For the seventh year in a row there were no poor performing councils and only seven performed adequately.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: ‘About 1.75 million people across England rely on the care arranged for them by their council. The large majority of councils provide good standards of care, whether they run the services themselves or commission them from the private or voluntary sectors. But a few need to improve considerably before they can say they are providing good services for local people.

‘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.’

But there were also warnings that a long-term solutuon to adult care funding still had to be found.Jo Webber, the deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation said, “The news that 95% of councils are either performing well or excellently in providing social care is very welcome. But it 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.’

She added: ”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 £2 billion promised by the Government in the CSR, is spent on social care and that we get the most value possible from it. ‘

From this year the system of performance assessment that has operated since 2002 is changing. From 2010-11 the councils themselves will take more responsibility for driving and monitoring improvement locally and the CQC is helping in the design of a new system with the Department of Health, the Local Government Group and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

CQC’s report, Performance judgements for adult social services, can be found on its website.