Headlines: February 27th, 2009

Councils have a ‘place shaping’ responsibility and this includes ensuring the community is a better place to live. Dame Denise Platt, Chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, has urged councils to respond to the challenge in the fast developing social care scene.

The role of local councils is changing and the biggest challenge of all is to become effective commissioners for the whole community they serve. The Community Care reforms reinforced the position of councils as mediators between individuals and service providers. But the transformation programme of today goes right to the heart of the relationship between the citizen and the state. These reforms are about empowering individual people to have a direct, responsive relationship with the people or agencies that provide their care and support.

Investigations by the Commission found that people looking for support often find that their needs are not fully considered, and that advice about the options open to them is hard to come by. There is also much criticism of the way that eligibility criteria are applied in practice.

The Commission also found that there are real challenges in making personalised care a reality. Assessment and care planning are not yet sufficiently person-centred and holistic. Many carers still feel unsupported, and excluded by some resource allocation formulae. Advocacy services are limited. In some places assessments of people’s needs are not universally available.

Dame Denise Platt said that there is a real need for strong leadership in support of personalisation. She quoted a service manager at one council who expressed the view that politicians are very resistant to personal care budgets. They have a real problem with the inequity of it and the impact on the workforce. They believe it could be the end of the in-house provider.