Tuesday 8th October 2013

An ADASS report has called on government to clarify the situation concerning the rights of care home residents to use online forms on council websites to see if they might qualify for the care accounts being introduced as part of the new Dilnot arrangements for funding social care.

Currently, the legal position is unclear, and the report, written by the Associations Information Management Group (IMG), argues that in order for online self-assessment to be implemented, the government will need to make clear in regulations that this is legally permissible including what limitations apply.

It goes on to examine the practical information system implications of the governments proposed care funding reforms in the Care Bill currently going through Parliament.

The report says that an estimated additional half a million people will be contacting councils from 2016 for help with the costs of their care mainly older people due to the so-called Dilnot Cap on total lifetime costs that anyone will have to pay out of their own pocket. The ADASS IMG report concludes that existing computer systems can be enhanced relatively easily to support the extra data.

However, it goes on to argue that a simple enhancement could miss an opportunity radically to improve local authority computer systems for greater efficiency.

Other functions could also be carried out online by people applying for a Care Account on behalf, say, of an elderly parent. They could record income and assets online to check if the council will contribute to care costs before the Dilnot cap is reached.

The current cost of adult social care assessment and review in England is over £2 billion per annum. If only 5 per cent of the workload could be carried out online by some people, that would represent a significant saving to set against an anticipated 45 per cent increase in demand for eligibility assessments. Leading IT suppliers, though, are confident that their systems could be adapted to enable this.

Under the new duties of the Care Bill, councils will have to maintain a Care Account for anyone whose care needs are high enough to qualify for the remainder of that persons life. The Department of Healths consultation paper Caring for our Future proposes that councils must transfer quite extensive care information between themselves as people move residency.

Original research for the report suggests that a county council may have to handle 15 people every week moving in and/or out of their area with a Care Account. The report makes the case for making the transfer of that information electronic for security and efficiency reasons. According to Richard Pantlin, the reports author and a leading expert on adult social care information systems: This could lead to other benefits such as the consistent use of NHS numbers in social care to facilitate better integrated working with NHS colleagues.

Such a move would also fit in with the ADASS IMG `Web of Support` vision for adult social care informatics whereby all the different organisations involved in an individuals care can safely share relevant data electronically with the persons consent.

Chair of ADASS IMG, Terry Dafter, says: This comprehensive report addresses most of the information issues that councils will have to overcome over the next two years to deliver the governments care funding reforms. We are pleased to be able to make this contribution during the Department of Healths consultation phase. The early engagement with the leading IT suppliers has reduced the risk of our information systems not being ready on time.

The reports full recommendations are:

  • DH to clarify legal admissibility of online `pre-assessments.
  • ADASS, with the Local Government Association, to recommend processes for handling additional self-funder caseload more efficiently including online self-service option.
  • ADASS IMG to assess options for electronic transfer of data.
  • ADASS IMG to carry out cost-benefit analysis of options for local authorities to obtain verified NHS numbers.

According to Intellect* The implementation of the Dilnot report presents significant opportunities but also some challenges for councils. Technology will play an integral role in turning the government's care funding reforms into a reality when the Care Bill becomes law.

Todays publication of the Implementing Dilnot report on IT system implications will help to outline the current market position and raise key areas of action for all partner organisations who must work together to optimise this opportunity. Intellect is delighted to be part of this work and will help to bring together industry and local authorities to build a cohesive plan for information sharing across the social care network. We are looking forward to working with ADASS, the LGA and DH to take this agenda forward.

ENDS

For further information contact:
Terry Dafter, Chair, ADASS Information Management Group, 0161 474 4401
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Media Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

Editorial Notes

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors and senior managers of adult social services departments in English local authorities. Directors (DASSs) have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people, adults with disabilities and adults with mental health needs.

In many authorities ADASS members will also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, libraries, culture, and community safety on behalf of their councils. More than a third of DASSs are also the statutory director of childrens services for their authority.

ADASS IMG is the main forum for all operational issues regarding local authority adult social services information management, eg social care systems procurement and management, social care public websites, IT support for social care staff, and information governance.* Intellect is the trade association for the UKs tech sector which includes the IT, telecoms and electronics industries. Intellect has over 850 member companies ranging from major multinationals to SMEs, which account for approximately 10 per cent of UK GDP and over a million jobs. For more information about Intellect please visit: www.intellectuk.org.