The most important task for Brighton and Hove
Council is to ensure that the planned establishment of a care trust
leads “directly to better services for users”, according to a joint
review by the Social Services Inspectorate and the Audit
The report says this will entail a “sustained
focus on customer care, stronger management of front-line services,
and skilled management of change as well as ensuring good support
for staff and managing their workloads”.
The report commended the authority for its
drive to modernise and for its commitment to integrate with health.
The majority of social services users were well served and there
was an overall improvement in the availability and quality of
services in recent years.
Older people have benefited from better
community care and rehabilitation services and there were many good
initiatives across mental health and substance misuse services.
However, progress was not always steady and
outcomes for users and their carers are still mixed. Social work
services for both adults and children need further attention,
consolidation and improvement, says the report.
Some changes were not well implemented. “While
some necessary improvements have been slow to materialise, others
have been undermined by budget instability, poor planning, or a
lack of attention to detail,” says the report.
There were extreme pressures on hospital beds
combined with an acute shortage of suitable accommodation for
vulnerable people with special needs. Closures of local residential
and nursing homes resulted in a lack of placement choice especially
for older people with mental health needs.
Jean Spray, executive councillor for social
care and health at Brighton and Hove, said the council worked
closely with the review team during the past year and welcomed its
findings. “It is an invaluable benchmark in our efforts to improve
performance and we accept the need to continuously strive to
deliver better services to more people. Front-line services are a
top priority for us.”