Shake-up in older people’s services prompts ultimatum from Ladyman

Older people’s services are to be overhauled, culminating with the
publication of a new vision for adult social care in the

Outlining the government’s plans at the Association of Directors of
Social Services spring seminar in Torquay last week, community care
minister Stephen Ladyman challenged directors to help create a
“person-centred, proactive and seamless service”.

Failure to grasp this “once in a lifetime opportunity” would mean
directors had failed in their duties as commissioners of older
people’s services, he added. And he threatened to use “the barrel
of a gun” if necessary to ensure that services were improved.

“This is a challenge for all of you – it might be easier to keep
your distance and then blame the government and policies when
things don’t work out but that’s not an option for genuine
professionals,” he said.

Ladyman promised full consultation before the new vision was
published. Among the issues to be considered will be the viability
of care trusts, development of preventive services, how to
encourage greater use of direct payments and the possibility of
changing restrictive performance indicators.

He warned directors they had to take more responsibility for
developing better quality residential and nursing home capacity.
“If you are buying this service you are creating a market for it,”
he said. “If you are paying for a service that falls short of the
ideal you are as guilty of failing your service users as the people
who provide that service.”

He urged directors to design “pro-active services that stopped
problems happening and maintained independence”, and that would be
taken up by providers.

Ladyman also signalled that social services would need to develop
“broad and deep partnerships” with other agencies and council

ADSS president Andrew Cozens welcomed the announcement but said it
was important that the vision wasn’t “over-complicated” and that
health, housing, leisure and transport services were signed up to

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