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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2010): Social care - UK

Adult social care

Law Commission

2010 (Consultation paper; 192)

The report says that the adult care system needs to be drastically simplified as it is currently covered by 38 Acts of Parliament. It recommends that: 1) councils should be obliged to assess the needs of all carers and provide support to those in need of help, regardless of whether they look after their friends and relatives full or part-time; 2) eligible carers and vulnerable adults should receive direct payments to fund services and equipment; and 3) a national eligibility framework should be drawn up by the government to determine fixed criteria under which vulnerable adults and carers would qualify for council support. The report does not address the issue of how to pay for the proposed new system, which it says is a matter for the government.

Conduct on the cusp

D. Lombard

Community Care, Jan. 21st 2010, p. 16-17

The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence heavily criticised the General Social Care Council's record in regulating the conduct of social workers. Its review recommended replacing the present conduct system with a fitness to practise regime focusing more on competence, bringing the GSCC into line with healthcare regulation.

Containing caseloads

M. Garboden

Community Care, Jan. 21st 2010, p. 20-21

Social workers are concerned that their caseloads are too heavy. The 2009 Social Work Task Force report rejected a cap on caseload numbers, and argued that the best way to handle workloads is through good supervision and management. This article discusses whether managers in statutory social services are willing and able to properly support staff.

Devil in the detail as sector welcomes mandatory safeguarding plan

V. Pitt

Community Care, Jan. 28th 2010, p. 7

The government has announced plans to make multi-agency adult safeguarding boards mandatory by putting them on a statutory footing. However, no funding was announced to support the implementation of the proposed legislation, and the government has not indicated that it will give agencies new powers to intervene in cases of suspected abuse. While the proposed legislation would make the boards mandatory, there is no guarantee that this would make attendance compulsory for all agencies.

Is failure not an option?

L. Tickle

Community Care, Feb. 4th 2010, p. 16-17

There is concern that universities are pushing poorly performing students through social work degree courses in order to avoid losing funding. The Higher Education Funding Council for England distributes funding for social work degree courses to universities within overall block grants. The size of the grant depends on the number of students who successfully complete their courses every year, and institutions lose money if a high proportion of students fail.

Performance measurement in adult social care: looking backwards and forwards

P. Clarkson

British Journal of Social Work, vol. 40, 2010, p. 170-187

The principal approach to social care performance measurement in the UK involves national public reporting of indicators and comparison between organisations. It has had limited measurable impact on practice within social services departments. Although some benefits for regulators have been reported, there has been much criticism of the data. This article reviews alternative models for devising and collecting performance data, with the potential benefits of locally based models being described.

The social worker versus the General Social Care Council: an analysis of Care Standards Tribunal hearings and decisions

K. McLaughlin

British Journal of Social Work, vol.40, 2010, p. 311-327

The General Social Care Council (GSCC) is the regulatory body for the social care workforce in England. It maintains the Social Care Register and has the power to refuse an applicant entry onto the Register and to instigate proceedings to have those on the Register removed if they deem the social worker in question to have committed misconduct. As it is a criminal offence for anyone whose name is not on the Register to call themselves a social worker, the GSCC has extensive powers in relation to the social care workforce. This paper analyses cases in which social workers have been through the GSCC's regulatory process, disagree with the decision, and have exercised their right to appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal. Using critical content analysis, several themes are identified that give cause for concern about the workings of the GSCC, its Committees and the Care Standards Tribunal itself.

The State of healthcare and adult social care in England: key themes and quality of service in 2009

Care Quality Commission

London: TSO, 2010 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC343)

Great improvements have been made over recent years. Increasing numbers of health and social care services, councils and PCTs have been assessed as 'good' or 'excellent'. The proportion of adult social care services (such as care homes and home care agencies) rated as good or excellent rose from 69% in 2008 to 77% in 2009; the proportion of NHS trusts scoring good or excellent for quality of services has remained high at 63%, an increase from 61% in 2008. However, there remains unacceptable variation, and a small number of services or organisations do not meet minimum standards of safety and quality. Five per cent of NHS trusts are rated 'weak' and 2% of adult social care services (such as care homes and home care agencies) are 'poor'. In the independent health care sector, across all services and all minimum standards, there are major shortfalls from the standards in 10% of cases. The future presents a major challenge. Public finances are tightening and the Government expects that, in 20 years' time, 1.7 million more adults in England will have a care and support need. To help meet this challenge, there needs to be real acceleration in providing care that is coordinated around people's needs so that they can benefit from the very best possible outcomes. Approaches to joined-up care within and between health and social care can help make the system more efficient.

Unified assessment: policy, implementation and practice

D. Sneddon, C. Robinson and J. Perry

British Journal of Social Work, vol.40, 2010, p. 207-225

The Welsh Assembly Government published Guidance Creating a unified and fair system for assessing and managing care in April 2002. The Guidance, commonly referred to as the Unified Assessment Process (UA), applies to all adult service user groups and provides a co-ordinated, overarching system of care management. It aims to ensure effective joint working and to reduce duplication of assessments. This paper presents findings from a study which explored the effects of the implementation of UA on direct practice in general and care management in particular, drawing on the experiences of strategic and operational staff. Results suggest that UA promotes the more consistent application of eligibility criteria and encourages more creative approaches to both care and service delivery planning. However, considerable variability in the nature and volume of information collected by practitioners is noted and problems relating to the sharing and management of information are highlighted.

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