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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2002): Social Care - UK

CARE COMPANIES WELCOME RULING ON COMPETITION

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Sept. 13th 2002, p. 2

The care home provider Bettercare took North and West Belfast Health and Social Services to the competition authorities arguing that it was abusing its position as a monopoly purchaser by paying uneconomic fees for care home places. The tribunal ruled that the public authority is an economic undertaking in its role as a purchaser of care, and therefore subject to the Competition Act.

EXTENT OF BED-BLOCKING FINES SYSTEM SURPRISES HEALTH AND CARE SECTORS

D. Brown

Community Care, Aug. 8th-14th 2002, p. 16-17

The government's proposals on reimbursing hospitals for the cost of bed-blocking will undermine joint working between health and social care and give acute trusts incentives to discharge patients early.

EYE ON THE BALL

T. Shifrin

Health Service Journal, vol. 112, Aug. 29th 2002, p. 10-11

Reports interview with Social Services Chief Inspector Denise Platt, whose remit is to improve co-operation between health and social care. Discusses plans to fine social services departments for delayed hospital discharges of older people and the need to improve primary and community care in order to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

FAIRER CHARGING POLICIES FOR HOME CARE AND OTHER NON-RESIDENTIAL SOCIAL SERVICES: PRACTICE GUIDANCE

Department of Health [and] Department for Work and Pensions

London: 2002

Offers suggestions on how the statutory guidance on local councils' charging policies for social care should be implemented and operated. The guidance concentrates on four main areas:

  • initial design of policy and consultation;
  • assessment of disability related expenditure;
  • benefits advice;
  • good practice standards and performance monitoring.

IMPLEMENTING REIMBURSEMENT AROUND DISCHARGE FROM HOSPITAL

Department of Health

London: 2002

Hospitals must notify social services and primary care trusts immediately it is clear that a patient will require continuing care after discharge. These bodies must then develop a discharge plan under clear joint protocols. Delay is counted from the end of three days allocated draw up the discharge plan or from the day after the decision that the patient is ready for transfer, whichever is the later. Reimbursements of £120 a day in the South East and £100 elsewhere will be paid by social services departments to acute trusts for every day of a delayed discharge. Reforms proposed under the NHS Plan will remove hospitals' incentives to discharge patients too early, as, if they are readmitted within a defined number of days the hospital will not be compensated for the extra costs.

THE MONEY PROGRAMME

B. Martin

Community Care, Aug. 8th-14th 2002, p. 30-31

Argues that low pay in the social care sector is leading to chronic staff shortages and low morale. Some of the new money allocated to social services in the Comprehensive Spending Review should be invested in the workforce. A better rewarded, higher status workforce would deliver better services and raise customer satisfaction.

REBELLION IN THE RANKS

R. Winchester

Community Care, Aug. 8th-14th 2002, p. 28-29

Explains why social care staff supported recent strikes for more pay by local government workers. Social care staff have been subjected for many years to rising workloads, low pay and the stress of intensified audit and inspection. The sector has also suffered from years of staff shortages and low morale.

SOCIAL SKILLS

R. Bangard and others

Health Service Journal, vol. 112, Aug. 29th 2002, p. 24-25

Describes a scheme in Hull which involved the attachment of social services assessment officers to general practices across the city. The scheme is thought to have cut delays in organising needs assessments fort older people and to have improved communication between social services and primary care. The support of practice managers was key to the success of the venture. Seeing a social worker in general practice also appeared to lessen the stigma some older people felt about referral to social services.

YEAR LONG DELAY IN VETTING CARE STAFF

I. Burrell

Independent, Sept. 9th 2002, p. 1

Reports that the backlog of "enhanced" checks at the Criminal Records Bureau has risen to 102,000 and includes applications from probation officers, social workers and people working in care homes. Delays of up to a year in completing checks are occurring because the Bureau has concentrated on vetting teachers.

YOUNG CARERS: ASSESSMENT AND SERVICES

P. Banks and others

Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2002 (Health and community care research findings; no. 23)

A literature review was undertaken to examine how voluntary and statutory agencies identify, assess and provide services for young carers and their families. There is broad agreement that it is inappropriate for children to assume major responsibility for personal and emotional care of family members. However views differ as to whether the best policy response is to target parents, children and young people or the family as a whole. The main service development has been the institution of projects which offer individual and group activities and support for children and young people outside the home.

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