Separate client group assessments planned for adult social services

Councils will be judged separately on their performance for each adult social care client group in the future, to counter concerns that older people’s services dominate current assessments.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection said councils would receive an overall rating for adult services and separate judgements for learning difficulties, older people, mental health and substance misuse, physical and sensory disabilities,
and carers.

Transitional proposals to give enough weight to each client group were included in consultative plans this week to revise the performance assessment system in 2007 in line with this year’s health and social care white paper.

These would mean that judgements contributing to the adult care star rating would be weighted according to each client group: 40 per cent for older people and 15 per cent for each of the others. In 2004-5, older people’s services accounted for 58 per cent of adult social care spending.

But CSCI wants to go further and produce separate judgements for each group, alongside an overall rating.

Carole Herrity, campaigns manager at Mencap, welcomed the move, saying it could help to prevent incidents like the Cornwall abuse scandal (news, page 6, 6 July) by stopping agencies ignoring the needs of people with learning difficulties.

This week’s proposals will change the structure rather than the content of the performance assessment system.

From next year, councils’ performance will be assessed with reference to the seven white paper outcomes – on health, quality of life,  choice, freedom from discrimination, making a positive contribution, economic well-being and dignity – and judgements on leadership and commissioning.

These would replace the existing national standards on meeting national priorities, efficiency, effectiveness, quality, fair access and capacity to improve.

However, the performance indicators councils are assessed against will only change to reflect the white paper in 2008 or 2009.

In 2007, the existing four-category star ratings system will be replaced by a five-category system to better differentiate between councils.

A New Outcomes Framework for Performance Assessment of Adult Social Care from

Future of adult social care performance assessment:
● 2007: System constructed around the seven white paper outcomes, and leadership and commissioning judgements; weightings given to each client group
● By 2009: Joint outcomes for health and social care; performance indicators revised in line with white paper; separate
judgements for each client group

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