Radical changes in care needed 

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: 4th November 2010
Embargo: 10:00 HRS, November 4, 2010

Adult Social Care services are facing a 'radical transformation' as they begin to confront the challenges posed by severely reduced budgets. According to ADASS President Richard Jones, we must celebrate the contribution social services have made to people's care and support to date..." but face up to the challenge of how we move forward in a context of increasing demand, reducing resources and major change."

In a speech to delegates at the annual children and adults social care conference in Manchester today, he warns of tough choices and hard decisions to come and of the need to take action now that supports a way forward which reforms what we have done, and builds on the best of what we know works.

Outlining three key shifts of emphasis within social care, he argues the importance of working with people as citizens, breaking a mould and dismantling a system which has trapped people and professionals in a way of working that has created dependency.

He stresses, too,  the  importance  of  breaking away from a system which identifies needs with services, and begins to see care and support moving beyond traditional social care: Personalisation gets nowhere if we continue to use the same services at the same quality, he warns.

The result will be a simplified process, more citizen-to-citizen support, personal budgets and maximum flexibility: Breaking the mould means loosening our grip and creating a new relationship between citizens and the state, he says.

The second key shift Jones focuses on is the need to develop prevention and community-based support services. Referring favourably to the Partnerships for Older People Projects (POPPs) he points out that for every £1 invested, £1.30 was saved in the NHS. Many of the activities active case finding, investment in incontinence services and supporting people with dementia are core to our job of enabling people to stay responsible for themselves for as long as possible and preventing higher costs and poorer outcomes Targeted prevention and support for carers need be at the core of our financial plans, he says.

Overall, he urges colleagues to bear in mind:

  • Most informal support is already provided families and communities
  • Communities are the site of care We need to build on our understanding of the communities we serve and provide them with opportunities to use resources we hold on their behalf. We must shift from bringing in and buying supports from outside those communities to building on the capacity that can be developed from within.

The final shift would mean a radical realignment in the way we work with other agencies.  In particular, there needs be an alignment of resources, effort and energy, to aim at common goals, pulling together rather than pulling apart.

This would replace the fragmented way in which we sometimes work now, where duplication  is marked by mistrust; where there is a lack of clarity over shared goals; where objectives are often driven by top-down priorities leading to poor uses of resources and competition, not collaboration.

Finally, Richard Jones speaks of a challenge to leadership to engage and work with others a leadership that listens, and seeks a real involvement in hard and tough decisions. One that gets citizens, communities and partners involved in activities where they are not done to, but who shape options. A leadership that looks to make people real stakeholders, bringing resources, ideas, innovation and commitments to the solutions we all seek.

For further information contact:
Richard Jones, ADASS President, 01772 534390
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 07976 837755