Social care is going up the political agenda, according to Department of Health director general of social care David Behan.
He told adult social care directors last week that environment secretary David Miliband, widely tipped as a future Labour leader, had recently said social care was one of the government’s main long-term challenges.
Speaking at the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ inaugural spring seminar, Behan said he wanted to reassure those who doubted that the government was serious about implementing plans to shift resources from acute to preventive care services, transfer purchasing power to service users and forge closer integration between health and social care.
The proposals, outlined in last year’s health and social care white paper, have been undermined by cost-shunting between councils and primary care trusts and the tightening of eligibility criteria by many authorities in the face of budget constraints.
But Behan said: “We need to be ambitious in our leadership in social care both for the people we serve and the people who work in the service.”
To achieve the seven outcomes for vulnerable adults outlined in the white paper, reform needs to be focused in four areas, he said. These were strengthening performance management, shaping and building care markets, increasing capability and capacity and empowering service users.