The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales has identified a growing gap between good and poor performers and widespread workforce problems in its first annual report on care services.
Chief inspector Rob Pickford said that, although the quality of care improved during 2006-7, it remained inconsistent, and councils and providers continued to have problems managing the workforce.
Home care agencies faced strong criticism. The CSSIW found many of them failed to follow basic recruitment practices, and said it had been involved in a number of adult protection investigations. Some agencies were censured for inconsistent quality of care planning and lack of staff training opportunities.
However, the United Kingdom Home Care Association said the report had failed to highlight the link between the level of local authority funding and service user outcomes.
Head of policy and communication Colin Angel said: “Society needs to see the full picture. Local councils continue to exert a downward pressure on prices paid to homecare providers.”
The inspectorate said councils had placed more priority on social services, and improved partnership working and service user involvement in 2006-7. However, the CSSIW said some authorities were lagging behind or had deteriorated on providing adequate leadership and performance management.
The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales said children’s homes, 70% of which are managed by private companies, were consistently good at meeting children’s personal needs. However, it identified “significant concerns” about the suitability, recruitment and training of staff, placement planning, record keeping and behaviour management.
It praised fostering services, half of which are in the independent sector, for improving staff training and support for carers to sustain placements, but said “significant improvement” was needed on recruiting staff and training foster carers.
The inspectorate also renewed previous concerns over recruitment practices and vetting of staff, training and workforce numbers in adult care homes.
Welsh Local Government Association