Overhaul social care targets to give professionals greater stake in delivering them, urges think-tank chief

Current proliferation of mini-targets divorces practitioners from intended outcomes for service users, says Claudia Wood

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Social care targets must be overhauled to give social workers and other professionals a greater stake in delivering on their aspirations.
That was the message from Demos chief executive Claudia Wood, in a speech to Community Care Live yesterday.
Wood said the approach of successive governments had been to set laudable aspirations for public services and break these down into several actions and multitudes of sub-actions. For example, the Department of Health currently has six priorities that are broken down into 44 actions and 126 sub-actions.
“These sub-actions are increasingly distant from the top-level priority and it is these sub-actions that are given to the frontline, meaning they have no sense of how this relates to the top-priority,” she said.
This meant professionals had little idea of how their contribution related to the overall goal intended, removing motivation and professional discretion. Practitioners were also incentivised to deliver on their sub-actions, rather than contribute to the overall aspiration, resulting in perverse consequences.
Wood said that governments should limit themselves to a set of high-level outcomes, informed by what service users want, each backed up a set of actions, but no further sub-actions.
Professionals should then be given guidance on delivering on the actions but left with professional discretion on how they did so.

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