Annual government funding is needed to support the sector-led adult care performance regime that has replaced Care Quality Commission assessments of councils, says the man charged with implementing it.
With councils under increasing financial strain, they will not be able to find all the resources necessary to monitor each others’ performance in adult social services and provide support for improvement, said Oliver Mills, programme manager of the Towards Excellence in Adult Social Care (TEASC) programme.
As of November 2010, the CQC no longer assesses councils’ adult social services performance, nor carries out inspections. Instead, performance management responsibility has been vested in councils themselves, led by the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, through the TEASC programme.
The Department of Health, which sits on the TEASC programme board, has provided £1m since 2010 to support sector-led improvement, and though further funding is expected for 2012-13, there is no government commitment as yet to provide recurring funding for the system.
Sector-led improvement includes:-
- Peer reviews and challenge, under which councils are inspected by officers from other authorities and given support to improve.
- Local accounts, under which councils produce an annual report on their performance in adult social services, informed by service user representatives, with neighbouring authorities providing oversight of each others’ accounts.
- CQC inspections as a last resort, in the case of significant service failures or where sector-led intervention proves insufficient.
- A system for collecting and collating data on outcomes so councils can benchmark their performance against each other and to help service users judge their authority’s standards.
Though it has been in operation since 2010, the model for sector-led improvement is still being developed, with the threshold for CQC intervention, the data collection system and regional standards for local accounts still to be decided upon. The model will be finalised in 2012-13 and rolled out in full from 2013-14 onwards.
“In my view you couldn’t fully implement the model without further funding,” said Mills. “I’ve gone round to all nine of the regions and the strong sense I get is that this will need some additional capacity to sustain it, not so much to fund people going from one place to another to do peer reviews but to provide some ongoing programme management and problem solving and oversight of the process. And adult social care departments are working under greater pressure.”
However, he stressed that it was a DH priority.
The sector-led programme has also been working to support improvement in the seven councils judged ‘adequate’ in CQC’s final performance assessment, each of which will undergo a peer review to confirm that they have improved sufficiently to lose their status.
So far, Cornwall has had its peer review and been deemed to have made sufficient improvement to lose its ‘adequate’ rating.
The other councils are Central Bedfordshire, Gateshead, Redcar and Cleveland, Solihull, South Tyneside and Wirral, where the LGA recently set up an improvement board to scrutinise performance in adult safeguarding and corporate governance, following a damning report into past failings.
Picture: Image Source