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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2004): Social Care - UK

ALL OUR LIVES: SOCIAL CARE IN ENGLAND 2002-2003

Joint Reviews of Social Services, Social Services Inspectorate [and] National Care Standards Commission

London: DH Publications, 2004

The report considers the performance and quality of social care services in England in 2002/03. It provides an overview of how far social care services are responsive to the needs, and promote the rights, of the people who use them.

HALF OF CARE HOMES FAIL DRUG STANDARDS

J. Carvel

The Guardian, March16th 2004, p.4

More than half the care homes in England fail to meet minimum standards for the handling of drugs and medicines, putting more than 200,000 older people and children at risk, government inspectors, the National Care Standards Commission, said yesterday.

(See also The Times, March 16th 2004, p.8)

THE MANAGEMENT OF MEDICATION IN CARE SERVICES 2002/03

National Care Standards Commission

London: TSO, 2004

The report reviewed inspection data from approximately 16,700 care homes for older people, younger adults and children to assess their performance against national minimum standards for medication handling. It found that 12% of care homes for older people and 11% of care homes for younger adults failed to meet the national standards. Children's homes performed worse than homes for other age groups, with about 15% not meeting the standard. The best performing care homes provided their staff with good medication training. Best practice methods such as monthly medication audits, regular updates of service users' records and good relationships with health community professionals were to be found in operation in these homes. Homes with the worst medication scores tended to be these in which overall quality and management were poor.

MANIPULATING CARE HOME FEES: WILL THE OFT INTERVENE

P. Grose

Caring Times, Mar. 2004, p.16

The BetterCare Group complained to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that the North and West Belfast Health and Social Services Trust was abusing its dominant market position to depress care home fees. The OFT rejected the complaint on the grounds that the relevant Health and Social Services Board dictates fees paid to private care homes and that there was no case for the trust to answer.

NO SECRETS IN PRACTICE

A. Foskett

Community Care, Mar.11th-17th 2004, p.38-39

The Department of Health issued guidance in 2000 which required social services departments to co-ordinate the local development of multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse. Article reports on a project which examined the implementation of the guidance.

NUMBERS GAME STRAINING RELATIONS BETWEEN HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES

D. Hayes

Community Care, Feb. 26th-Mar. 3rd, 2004, p.18-19

Department of Health statistics on delayed discharges from hospital cover all delays, including those caused by internal moves in the NHS, and patients exercising choice. Directors of Social Services believe that only 30-40% of delayed discharges are the fault of social services and will lead to their paying fines to the hospital trust. However, the way in which the Department of Health is publishing and interpreting the data is leading it to predict, unjustifiably, that local councils will not incur massive fines over the year.

OLD VIRTUES, NEW VIRTUES: AN OVERVIEW OF THE CHANGES IN SOCIAL CARE SERVICES OVER THE SEVEN YEARS OF JOINT REVIEWS IN ENGLAND, 1996-2003

Social Services Inspectorate [and] Audit Commission

Audit Commission Publications, 2004

The report reveals that:

  • although social services are better managed than they were in 1996, there is still a big gap between the best and worst councils;
  • there is no link between how much a council spends on social care and how good its services are;
  • the best councils concentrate more on arranging services and less on directly providing them, using skills in commissioning, market management and procurement;
  • fewer people are going into residential care and the incidence of delayed discharge has been reduced as more people get the services they need at home;
  • more services are available designed to prevent family breakdown, but this investment has not yet led to fewer children going into local authority care.

ON TARGET?

D. Burnham

Community Care, Feb. 26th-Mar. 3rd 2004, p.34-35

The Department of Health's Performance Assessment Framework introduced in 1998 requires each social services department to report annually its performance against 51 indicators and to set targets for the following year. Most performance indicators are agreed to be reasonable measures of success, but measure organisational inputs rather than outcomes for users. However, there is concern that some indicators introduce perverse incentives and lead to skewing of management effort.

THANKS FOR NOTHING

M. Hunter

Community Care, Feb. 26th-Mar. 3rd 2004, p. 32-33

Local councils have the freedom to offer cash rewards to staff in high performing social services departments which achieve three star status. However, very few have taken advantage of this flexibility. Social workers are divided on the question of whether cash bonuses would raise morale.

ROOTS OF QUALITY

D. Burnham

Community Care, Mar. 4th-10th 2004, p.38-39

The article describes how Lancashire Social Services are embedding performance measurement in the day-to-day work of its frontline staff. The system is based on the principle that staff must be able to see the relationship between measured performance, good practice and good outcomes for service users.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

A. Adeagbo

Community Care, Mar. 4th-10th 2004, p.36

The article suggests some guidelines to enable voluntary organisations to work in harmony with national and local government.

TRIED HARD - COULD HAVE DONE BETTER

M. Wigg

Caring Times, Mar. 2004, p.18

The article reviews the two-year regulatory regime of the National Care Standards Commission. It calls on the successor body, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, to develop a sound method for calculation of staffing levels in care homes and to produce a Code of Practice for its officers as a safeguard against regulatory abuse.

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