A state-of-the-nation report by the main social care inspection
bodies says most services meet clients’ needs, but there is
too much variation in performance, writes Derren
‘All Our Lives – Social Care in England 2002-03’ is based
on inspection reports from the outgoing Social Services
Inspectorate, Audit Commission joint review team and the National
Care Standards Commission – all of which will be replaced by
the Commission for Social Care Inspection this week.
The report praises moves to increase support for older people to
live at home longer, and the strides social services departments
have made in reducing delayed discharge.
But lack of information on entitlements, delays in needs
assessments and organising services, a rise in care home closures,
and lack of availability of direct payments are all criticised.
The report said councils have made significant improvements in
the way they carry out responsibilities for safeguarding children
at risk, with 97 per cent of child protection reviews taking place
on time – up from 81 per cent in 1999-02. But these are not
spread evenly and councils are “a long way from achieving
excellence in all their children’s services”.
Although many councils are getting better at consulting mental
health service users, this is offset by the limited involvement of
service users in care planning and by the needs of their carers
The overview report follows the publication of ‘Old Virtues, New
Virtues’, a summary report of joint reviews carried out by the SSI
and Audit Commission between 1996 and 2003. It concluded that there
is not a strong link between the amount of money spent and service
quality, and that user satisfaction has not increased over this