English councils are being asked to provide weekly reports on how social services in their areas are coping with pandemic flu.
Weekly reports are due from 2 December onwards and councils are expected to spend the next two weeks communicating with providers about how to report developments.
SocCon is designed to give directors of children’s and adult social services a local view of staffing pressures are and allow the Department of Health to assess nationally the impact of swine flu on social care services.
The roll-out follows a trial of SocCon with five local authorities – Merton, Southwark, Suffolk, Lancashire and Birmingham – and four government offices – North West, London, the East of England and West Midlands.
It is based upon a similar reporting system for healthcare called FluCon.
SocCon levels run from zero to three, with three as the worst scenario. Councils have been asked to report one SocCon level for adults’ and one for children’s social care services to their regional government office every Wednesday for a time-limited period. This information will then by passed to the DH.
Help from neighbours
Roy Taylor, national director for social care flu resilience at the DH, said SocCon could allow councils to see if they needed extra help from a neighbouring area.
He said: “It will give all directors a chance to work with their emergency planners to report on the state of pressure.
“We will have to see how long it will last. It’s contingent on the outbreak itself but it will establish a reporting system for the first time in social care.
“It could give a picture of what’s going on regionally. We’ve never had anything like it before.”