Abstracts: October 9th, 2013

This paper from the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council warns that adult social care system is “fundamentally broken” and “unfit for purpose”. It calls for a radical shakeup for service provision.

The report argues that for many commentators, the adult social care system is fundamentally broken. This is not the fault of current workers, managers or policy makers – but there is strong consensus that we still have a 1940’s system which is increasingly unfit for purpose in the early twenty-first century.”

The study was based on a review of how local council websites frame what they do for local people and interviews with a series of leading national stakeholders and good practice examples.

Its aim was to produce a policy paper to guide local authorities’ thinking on the potential for a new adult social care “offer” to local people.

Professor Jon Glasby, Director of the Health Services Management Centre, and lead author of the report, said: “Local authorities across the country are struggling to meet their responsibilities in a very difficult financial and policy context. With higher levels of need, higher public expectations and widespread cuts, the previous approach to adult social care feels fundamentally unfit for purpose.”

Prof Glasby added: “Rather than starting with deficits (things people can’t do for themselves), we need to start with social capital and community resources (things people can for themselves and others, and everyday solutions that make sense to them). In future, adult social care needs to adopt more of a community development approach – working with individuals, groups and communities to build capacity and helping people to find new ways to achieve chosen lifestyles.”

The report also calls for recognition that adult social care spending is a form of social and economic investment that helps people be active citizens, supports people to return to employment and can generate new businesses opportunities for local people.

There should be a closer relationship with the NHS so that scarce public resources are used as effectively as possible and the needs of people with complex needs are met in full. There is also a need for a closer relationship between local and national government so that both see themselves as partners when trying to resolve traditional dilemmas and develop new approaches.