Worth waiting for

Community care minister Stephen Ladyman declared himself a man on a
mission when he spoke at Community Care Live a few months
ago. The mission was a shake-up of adult social care and, about
now, he expected to be publishing his new vision for services.

Despite the short timescale this was all going to be done in full
consultation with staff and users. “Patience is not my strength,”
he told us. Clearly not, but the fact is you just can’t come up
with a meaningful blueprint, taking account of a wide range of
views, in the sort of timescale the minister was proposing – about
10 weeks, all told.

So it comes as no surprise that there is going to be a delay.

The good news is that it looks as if we are now going to get an
adult social care green paper in the next session of parliament.
This is welcome news and it helps dispel the feeling that those at
the top are interested only in children’s services.

The minister is also to be commended for keeping his own thoughts
on the shape of the new look service to himself. There’s nothing
worse than taking part in a consultation exercise when those with
the power to make changes have already made up their minds.
However, the minister has made it clear this is no mere tinkering
exercise. What he is seeking is root-and-branch reform in which
people are urged to “think the unthinkable”.

Ladyman noted that some of the suggestions he had received so far
were “a little disappointing”. That sounds like minister-speak for
“not worth the paper they are written on”. It seems that too many
respondents were hung up on processes and systems. The antidote to
this is to seek out the views of more users and this is just what
is going to happen.

So while we are going to have to wait a little longer to see what
the future holds for adult social care, that may turn out to be no
bad thing.

If we really are going to seize the “once in a lifetime” chance to
reshape services that the minister is promising us, let’s do it
properly and not rush it. Service users deserve nothing less.

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