By Stephen Turner, Dawn Sweeney and Lesley Hayes.
ISBN 011 701867 8
I have always had some doubts about the value of annual
community care plans. In many ways the requirement by central
government to have such an animal at all seemed to be a blunt
instrument to force those very few local authorities who weren’t
joint planning with health and other agencies to do so.
Inevitably, annual plans are of too limited a timescale to set
and chart achievements, especially with the processes which public
sector organisations have to go through to change and develop
services in contrast to private companies.
This study by researchers at the Hester Adrian Centre at
Manchester University is a brave attempt to extrapolate some
consistent standards from 108 English community care plans, looking
at services for people with learning difficulties.
Inevitably, the plans vary widely in content and function and,
even in something so basic as the numbers of people to be served –
only two-thirds of the plans referred to current numbers of people
with learning difficulties, and only one in six gave an estimate of
Turner et al will, I am sure, stimulate operational managers and
planners to look closely at what is happening to service
development across the county and generate ideas both on planning
systems and the kind of community improvements being envisaged at
local level. It would be good to think that, as this study has an
HMSO level, the Department of Health might be gleaning some useful
information to inform, for example, a real and properly financed
commitment to closing and reproviding the last of the long stay
hospitals so as to move planning for people with learning
disabilities into a new phase. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem
Peter Gilbert is operations director, Staffordshire
social services department.