Review of adult care calls for all-Wales eligibility criteria

Wales should create national eligibility criteria for adult care services to end the postcode lottery for service users, a major review has concluded. (Picture: Welsh Assembly building, Millenium Centre, Pierhead building, Cardiff. Rex)

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Wales should create national eligibility criteria for adult care services to end the postcode lottery for service users, a major review has concluded.

The proposal is among a series of recommendations designed to improve consistency and efficiency across authorities by the Independent Commission on Social Services in Wales, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Pearson,

The panel of experts was set up by the Welsh Assembly Government to consider ways of improving the sector over the next decade. Its report, published on Tuesday, is expected to influence a white paper containing a 10-year plan for the social care sector due in January.

The commission recommended national eligibility criteria for services based on assessments which can be transferred between local authorities.

“It is clear that service users and carers want to see a fairer system in Wales with common eligibility criteria,” the report said.

The scheme would build on ongoing efforts to introduce maximum charges for home care and day care services in Wales.

Other recommendations, made in the context of the “bleak” outlook for public finances, included:

● Standardised contracts between service providers and local authorities across Wales

● Regional commissioning and delivery of specialist services such as learning disability and adoption

● Wales-wide entitlements for looked after children and care leavers

● National centres of excellence for research and post-qualifying training for social workers

The regional commissioning models and delivering a “step change in collaboration” were recommended after the review found “the present arrangements for the planning, commissioning and delivery of services across the 22 local authorities are not sustainable. These arrangements are too heavy a drain on funding, managerial and change capacity.”

The systems in place to support case recording for Wales’s 4,500 registered social workers were creating a “bureaucratic burden”, the report found, which prevented them from spending time with clients.

The report recommended an urgent review of assessment systems for both adults and children to ensure professionals’ time and skills were used more productively.

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