Social care funding and reform 'essential to the survival of local government' - new ADASS president

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Monday 16th April 2012
Embargo: 00.01 hrs Wednesday 18th April 2012

The current need to reduce budgets alongside pressures from a wide range of alliances and pressure groups could leave adult social care frozen like rabbits in the headlights: "With no chance of an emergency stop, the results would not be pretty."

So warns incoming ADASS President Sarah Pickup who, in a wide-ranging speech to members at the Association's spring seminar, argues that the recent passing of the Health and Social Care Act 'only nods to social care' as being needed to make health service reform work.

Conversely, Mrs Pickup argues that the rise of new agencies such as Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups and new local and national alliances provides adult social care with 'a moment of opportunity, knowing that all partners need to change what they do and how they do it.'

The next part of the equation will be the imminent social care White Paper and the thrust it should give to "a funding framework for social care which recognises the need to support and safeguard those with the highest levels of need" but which also encourages councils and citizens to invest in prevention and recovery and links them to wider council services.

She says: "I see it as our job, locally and nationally, to make sure we are not caught in the headlights but that we take the positive opportunities offered by change to work with partner organisations."

Pointing to a widespread consensus that the issue of social care funding 'is essential to the survival of local government' she goes on to point to a number of alliances being formed across the sector. "The crossroads we are at with social care has led to unprecedented cross sector alliances and an outbreak of violent agreement about the need to act now."

Other points Mrs Pickup makes include the need for:

* Improvements in both commissioning and providing

* Greater transparency about the costs of care

* Ensuring that information, advice and support is available to all our citizens

* Exerting influence "within our own authorities, lower tier authorities, towns and communities which allows people to participate and to thrive no matter what their condition."

* Looking beyond our staff to support independent and voluntary sector providers in ensuring their staff have the right skills and values to offer high quality care.

She stresses, too, the less quantifiable aspects of high quality care "When I visit services I am humbled by the compassion and determination of individual staff, often in low-paid roles, who go the extra mile to make someone comfortable; to reassure families, or to find a way to communicate with someone with dementia.

Simple things like letters that answer the questions that have been asked; calls returned on time; letting people know if a homecarer is unavoidably delayed - just being polite - make all the difference about how people feel about the support and care they receive," she says.

And overall she warns against despondency: "Yes, to get the best health and social care services we will also need reform and a sustainable solution for funding. But we must not allow ourselves to believe that without these there is nothing we can do. A counsel of despair is something we must avoid no matter how hard the times."

ENDS

For further information contact:
Sarah Pickup, President, ADASS 01992 556300
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

Editorial Notes

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors of adult social services in local authorities in England. DASSs have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people and adults with disabilities, while over 50 per cent also run social housing departments. ADASS members might also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, library, culture and arts services within their councils.