Social care services 'on the edge' - ADASS President
- Published on Friday, 26 October 2012 10:09
- Posted by Scott Buckler
The times are tough, and getting tougher, and it is clear that "we will not emerge from these tough times anytime soon... The light at the end of the tunnel remains distant and flickering," according to Sarah Pickup, President of the Association of Director Social Services
And in a no-nonsense message to local authorities and the independent sector alike she warns that the 'blunt instrument' of freezing or reducing prices has been used up, while "providers have a responsibility to ensure they can deliver against a service specification for the price they tender – including ensuring that they can recruit, train and retain sufficient suitable staff; cover travel costs and time, and pay at least the minimum wage."
Elsewhere in her speech to delegates at the National Children and Adult Services conference in Eastbourne, Mrs Pickup warns that "care services are 'on the edge'. Pressures on budgets mean a squeeze on prices and the allocation of personal budgets which will be sufficient to meet eligible needs and no more.
"This in turn means a squeeze on providers as they try to compensate for frozen or lower prices and sometimes to deliver care in visits that are too short. The loser, of course, is the person who we all say should be at the centre of what we do..."
Mrs Pickup also describes the various ways in which services could be better integrated and co-ordinated to achieve different outcomes in different areas of work – each requiring different partners. Again, she stresses that integration "can mean anything from the full TUPE transfer of staff from one organisation to another, to joint management arrangements or agreements to align services..."
But working more closely with NHS partners isn't simple. "Integration is a word much bandied around, and it isn't always apparent what is meant." It can mean integrating:
- Commissioning of services,
- Access to services, and
- Delivery of services.
She said: "From the point of view of the person using services the objective is coordinated care. We must hold onto this as a common purpose – the 'why', when looking at what to integrate, and how."
And while reminding her audience that most health and social care money will always be spent on those with the greatest need, "we will not be able to afford this if we do not do everything we can to reduce the numbers in this high-needs group."
In her conclusion she argues that "National government is relying on local government and its partners to take good decisions to drive forward its vision. For their part local government and its partners are relying on national government to take good decisions about how to fund it."