More care needed for carers when patients discharged from hospital

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Wednesday, February 24 2010
Embargo: Immediate

A major new report from Directors of Adult Social Services argues that carers of people being discharged from hospital can often feel that they are unrecognised; that they are not treated as genuine partners by the agencies concerned, and that the procedures involved simply dont work as well as they ought to for them, and the person they support.

While in their foreword, ADASS President Jenny Owen and ADASS Carers Network joint chair Graeme Betts stress that the discharge process should really begin at the point of admission to hospital, when "all parts of the system - family, carers, hospitals, primary and community care services - should be working together to assure a quality experience for patients and carers."

They quote from Lord Darzi, who reminded professionals that "people live out their lives in their own homes and communities. It is here that their health and wellbeing is shaped by the circumstances in which they find themselves." The over-riding message of the report is that while that there is good practice and progress in some places across the country, there is still a continuing need to change these attitudes and cultures and to understand better their impact on carers.

The report proposes, among its recommendations, that:

  • All statutory services involved should have a lead professional devoted to carers,
  • Specialist support should be available for people with dementia,
  • Carers' issues should be embedded into training and organisational cultures,
  • Information for carers should be accessible and available,
  • Services should understand better the needs of black and minority ethnic carers,
  • Everywhere should as good as the best on hospital discharge,

According to Jenny Owen: "If we are to see improvement we need to learn from the best. More systematic feedback is needed to change organisational cultures, promote organisational learning and drive up consistency and quality of experience.

"Quality is and has to be the guiding principle across more personalised health and social care pathways. By concentrating on quality experiences we can reduce variations in service and in outcomes.

"We believe front line staff, carers and patients all have a real contribution to make in improving hospital discharge in partnership with one another. Local clinical and management leadership is equally vital if we are to achieve the ambitions of the national strategy around partnership with carers."

ENDS

For further information, contact:
Jenny Owen, President, ADASS, 01245 434806
Graeme Betts, Joint Chair, ADASS Carers Network, 01926 742950
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023

Full report available from Drew Clode, or from www.adass.org.uk

Pictures of Ms Owen and Mr Betts available on request.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors of adult social services in local authorities in England. DASS's 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 leisure, library, culture and arts services within their councils.

* 'Personalisation' is a term used to describe a number of ways in which vulnerable adults and their carers can receive a mixture of local authority and government money in order to pay directly for the care services they need without direct social services involvement. They will be helped in making an assessment of their needs and finances by social workers who will also involve and consider the needs and availability of informal carers. Any contractual agreement is therefore between the individual and the care worker or operator.

Both the government and the Commission for Social Care Inspection have urged local authorities to prioritise the roll-out of individual budgets. A National Director for Social Care Transformation was appointed in September 2008 to contribute to the development of personalised services.