Star ratings: Councils improve but 12 still cause CSCI concern

Adult social care services in England have improved overall for the fifth year running, but just nine out of 21 councils causing concern in 2006 have made sufficient progress to move out of this category.

Releasing the annual star ratings for councils today, the Commission for Social Care Inspection said ratings had improved for 24 councils and deteriorated for 15, following a similar pattern to last year. For the second year running there were no zero-star authorities, while 28 gained one star (down from 33 in 2006), 74 achieved two stars (up one from 2006), and 48 three stars (up four from last year).

CSCI designated 21 councils as “priority for improvement” last year because they had been one-star authorities for adult services since star ratings began in 2002. It said nine of these moved up to two stars this year by improving services for carers and older people with mental health problems, developing preventive provision and improving choice and control for users.

However, CSCI chief inspector Paul Snell said: “CSCI will focus particular attention on the remaining 12 ‘priority for improvement’ councils in the next year, all of which need to urgently consider how they can better serve local people.”

Nine councils moved up to three stars and five authorities fell from three to two stars, while 15 councils rose from one to two stars and ten fell down to one star (see below). Of these, Wokingham, Wiltshire, Surrey and Northamptonshire were marked with an “uncertain” capacity to improve.

This year’s ratings were based on a new assessment framework incorporating the seven outcomes from last year’s health and social care white paper: improved health and emotional well-being, improved quality of life, making a positive contribution, increased choice and control, freedom from discrimination or harassment, economic well-being and maintaining personal dignity and respect. Councils were also assessed on their quality of leadership, commissioning and use of resources.

Of the seven outcomes, councils performed worst in ensuring freedom from discrimination for people using social care services with just one in 10 judged as excellent in the category. Overall, a quarter of councils were delivering only adequate outcomes for freedom from discrimination or harrassment, personal dignity and respect, improved quality of life and increased choice and control.

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