Challenges to changes: Adult Social Care flagged as biggest strain
- 13 Sep
Every local authority service and function is being examined, but adult social care is rapidly making its way to the top of the to do list.
As arguments continued over recommendations made by the Dilnot Commission on how to pay for all this, the Department of Health pressed ahead with the social care white paper, Caring For Our Future: Reforming Care and Support, in July. This has been criticised by some as having a financial vacuum at its heart.
With local authorities taking on more and more functions from the NHS as part of the government's drive to integrate services, senior managers will have to quickly work out how to remodel services and where the funding will come from.
LGC's survey, completed in the main by adult services directors, chief executives and senior managers, revealed some of the challenges councils are having to face up to.
Where cost pressures will be
Unsurprisingly, services for older people were flagged up as the biggest strain on council resources over the next five years, with dementia close behind.
Learning disabilities ranked third. According to a New Local Government Network report last year, funding for learning disability services was the fastest growing part of the adult social care budget, accounting for more than 23% of the overall budget.
The Winterbourne View private hospital scandal also highlighted the need to deliver more personalised and localised services for people with learning disabilities.
In 2011-12 £648m was transferred from the NHS to local authorities to help pay for social care. But a report by consultants MHP, An Atlas of Variations in Social Care, found just 4% of this was spent on mental health.
As mental health came fourth on survey respondents' lists, this may reveal concerns over future delivery expectations raised in the government's mental health strategy and taking on responsibilities from primary care trusts and other NHS services. There are also indications that as services become increasingly joined up, new pressures on council resources are revealed.
Service areas not included on the questionnaire but highlighted by respondents included homelessness, housing and transition between children's and adult services. Several also flagged taking up public health responsibilities in general.
When asked for their top three delivery priorities, more than 86% of respondents said allowing people to stay in their own homes. Reducing hospital admissions/ readmissions was second, with more than 68%.
The MHP research backs this view. It estimates that if all councils reduced the number of emergency hospital readmissions for over-75s within 28 days of discharge to the level of the best performing authorities, about £318m could be saved a year.
In comparison, scores on the LGC survey for delivery priorities associated with personalisation were considerably lower, echoing a degree of uncertainty in answers to specific questions on personalisation.
Improving social networks for clients was the lowest priority, with almost 18% of the vote.
A healthy 61% of respondents had strong plans to establish more re-ablement services to maximise service users' independence, with a further 29% saying some planning had been done.
Comments included "integration of rehab, re-ablement, equipment and telecare/health to reduce admissions and enable earlier discharge" and "integrated strategy around telehealth, assistive technology, extra care housing, home care and local community support".
Innovative learning disabilities services were mentioned in addition to those for older people and those with physical disabilities.
One respondent said: "We also have pilots running in learning disability and mental health, which we hope to roll out to become the universal offer."
Personal budgets, self- directed support and direct payments are all being pushed forward by the DH white paper. But serious questions remain over whether councils will be able to make the transition without struggling financially and organisationally.
The government has given councils until April 2013 to get all its social care users on personal budgets. There have been conflicting reports on whether this will be met.
LGC's survey points to a significant number of local authorities admitting they are not likely to meet the deadline. Nearly 22% said they were not on track and about 44% said they may make the deadline. Only 34% were definitely on track.
The LGC survey also found uncertainty over the implementation costs of personalisation. Some 23% of respondents were definitely expecting to make efficiency savings as a result, but many more - nearly 37% - were not expecting any savings.
Sarah Pickup from Adass said: "Efficiency is not the driver of personalisation. Sometimes a personalised service will deliver better outcomes or a lower cost but this is not the purpose. Personalisation is the context within which we are driving services forward and delivering efficiencies and savings is not in itself an initiative to save money."
No matter how services change, with less money available many people may have to expect less from social services.
The survey found some councils still plan to make eligibility criteria more restrictive, but 57% of respondents had no current plans for tighter criteria.
Richard Humphries, social care and local government senior fellow at the King's Fund, says this will affect the ability of councils to manage the widening gap between needs and resources.
He said: "With 82% already limiting help at ‘substantial' levels of need, far from heralding an end to the postcode lottery, this change will simply close the door long after the horse has bolted."
Read full analysis of results at LGC:
- 25 May
CARE HAS IMPROVED CONSIDERABLY IN ENGLAND
Almost three fourth of 372 care homes rated inadequate in 2014 and still operating have improved.205 care homes have improved from a low rating to requiring improvement, 68 are now rated good and 99...
- 24 May
NHS ADJUSTMENTS TO BUDGET CUTS
NHS trusts which have been previously rated good or outstanding will not be inspected as frequently as before, but those rated as inadequate will be regularly visited by the CQC.The Guardian reports...
- 19 Mar
Government to inspect if housing can reduce NHS costs
In the Budget document the government have said it's looking at the ‘cost-effectiveness of options to integrate spending around some of the most vulnerable groups of people.' This includes...
- 15 Oct
End of life patients are lacking support
The charity has found that almost 92% of NHS clinical commissioning groups do not provide round the clock telephone helplines, reports the BBC.Guidelines say there should be 24-hour telephone...
- 15 Sep
Social care is being limited due to council cuts
ADASS are warning that cuts are making the care system "unsustainable" with charities saying hundreds of thousands of people are struggling without help, even though the government says councils have...
- 17 Jul
Young people should not be placed in B&Bs says MPs
The Commons Education Select Committee has said that B&B accommodation is "threatening and frightening" and should only be used in emergency situations reports the BBC.MPs say that young people...
- 16 Jul
Special measures system designed to improve failing care homes
A scheme similar to special measures of hospitals will be introduced for care homes and home care agencies next year, ministers will say, reports the BBC.This will cover 25,000 services and could...
- 14 Jul
Research says that one in three Alzheimer's cases can be prevented
The research says that the main risk factors of Alzheimer's is lack of exercise, smoking, depression and poor education, reports the BBC. Alzheimer's Research UK said age was still the biggest risk...
- 10 Jul
NHS boss says those with vulnerabilities need joint health and care budget
Simon Stevens wants to see older people, those with disabilities and people with serious mental health problems given joint pots from the NHS and council-run social care services, reports the...
- 17 Jun
Council falters in reviewing autistic man’s care plan
According to Community Care:"The ruling was made by the Local Government Ombudsman after the man's mother complained that his physical and mental health deteriorated in the two-year period after...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "I thought this briefing was very good and very useful. The presentation was clear, well argued and I always find Michael gives me food for thought even if I don't agree with everything he says. I really like the way he facilitates a discussion in the room and I learn as much from other participants as I do from the presenter which is always good. Right length, right tone." R.P. - Richmond Fellowship