Chief inspector calls on councils to reconsider commissioning methods

Cash-strapped councils have been urged to reconsider the way they
commission children’s services to obtain best value from scarce

Social Services Inspectorate chief inspector Denise Platt, in her
11th annual report, also calls on local authorities to ensure that
new services for both children and older people “move to the
mainstream” of activity so that all service user groups can benefit
from reform.

The report, published last week, states that evidence from
inspections and reviews suggests urgent action is required to
ensure adequate safeguards for children are in place.

Platt also notes that councils have failed to make significant
improvements to boosting the life chances of looked-after

On a more positive note her report says that relationships across
health and social care, which have been disrupted by recent
structural changes, are starting to be rebuilt locally.

The report also looks at the councils’ performance in the star
rating system, noting that 69 per cent of them have good prospects.
Even in one-star councils more than half were judged to have good

Among issues that raised concern, inspectors found considerable
variation in domiciliary care services with, in some places, “poor
quality services typified by high staff turnover, unreliability,
unpunctuality, poor training and failure to stay for the allocated

Another area requiring attention was mental health with local
services lagging behind national policy advances with the report
noting “deficits in crisis intervention, supported accommodation,
assertive outreach, and in developing capacity in the independent
sector. “

This year the SSI inspected six councils to see how they were
coping with the modernisation agenda for social care. It found that
some councils were not ensuring equal access to services and in
some cases were failing to meet the requirements of the Disability
Discrimination Act 1995.

The report also highlighted the issue of take up of direct payment
schemes, which it describes as “disappointing.”

Modern Social Services a Commitment to Reform: The 11th
Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Social Services 2001-2


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