Preventive services ‘being discouraged’

A Department of Health official has admitted that one of its key targets is discouraging councils from investing in preventive services, forcing them to concentrate on high-end social care.

The target on supporting people to live at home “works against the prevention agenda”, said Anne McDonald, head of delivery for older people and disability, at a conference last week.

The target, one of the DH’s eight priority performance measures, rewards councils with a high proportion of people receiving intensive home care compared with all those receiving intensive services in any setting.

The Counsel and Care conference on tackling social exclusion among older people also heard the government would flesh out plans for a Sure Start-style programme for older people early next year.

Social exclusion minister Phil Woolas said the final report of the Social Exclusion Unit’s excluded older people’s project, expected in January, would detail plans for local older people’s centres, bringing together a range of services under community control.

But Woolas came in for criticism from Norman Glass, the former civil servant credited with creating Sure Start, for claiming it was easier for local agencies than central government departments to join up services.

In his address to the conference, Glass said: “The commitment to joining up has to come nationally. Unless you do that, all the preaching in the world [about joining up locally] will not work.”

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