Government’s future vision blurred by lack of service users’ reflections

    The government has delayed a report into its future vision of adult
    social care, instead confirming for the first time it is to publish
    a green paper on the issue.

    Community care minister Stephen Ladyman said it was his initial
    intention to publish a report outlining his views and “the
    direction the new vision would take”.

    However, he admitted this week that he had been forced to “pause”
    because of a lack of service user involvement in the
    consultation.

    The findings of the 178 responses to the Social Care Institute for
    Excellence consultation received between April and the end of June
    have been published this week and the consultation reopened to
    ensure more views influence the green paper due in late
    autumn.

    “Too much policy in the past has been developed top-down – I am
    determined this time it will be different,” said Ladyman.

    The findings were analysed by Gerald Wistow, director of the
    Nuffield Institute for Health at the University of Leeds. He said
    most of the responses had come from operational managers and
    front-line workers, but few from service users and carers.

    Ladyman said it was vital that the next stage of the consultation
    reached out to older and disabled people.

    Wistow said social services had recognised that a new vision could
    not be delivered by them alone. But he added that, although the
    relationship with the NHSwas important, it was relatively small and
    should not drive the vision as a whole.

    Relationships between social care and other mainstream services,
    including transport, planning and housing, were as important, he
    said.

    Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
    Workers, said the response had been poor because it had been
    publicised badly. He felt the next stage should look into issues in
    more detail rather than focus on the same questions.

    Although some adult services’ workers may feel disgruntled that the
    extension would lead to delays in changes to services, Johnston
    warned that ill-thought-through changes would be far worse.

    Andrew Cozens, president of the Association of Directors of Social
    Services, said he was pleased the longer time frame would allow for
    the publication of the public health white paper and the Children
    Bill to go through parliament.

    – Scie findings from www.scie.org.uk

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