Councils improve for eighth year running in adult care

Council performance in adult social care improved for the eighth year running in the final annual performance assessment for England, published today. Care Quality Commission chief executive Cynthia Bower praised the results but said councils need to strive to improve further.

Council performance in adult social care improved for the eighth year running in the final annual performance assessment for England, published today.

Three weeks after the government abolished the APA from 2010-11 onwards, the 2009-10 results revealed that 24% of authorities were performing excellently, up from 22% last year.

Overall, 95% of councils were performing well or excellently – the same proportion as last year – 5% were adequate and none were poor.

Councils have also improved on personalisation and safeguarding, two areas where performance was relatively poor last year. The proportion of councils rated as performing excellently or well in delivering choice and control rose from 77% to 86%, while there was a rise from 69% to 82% in the proportion performing excellently or well in providing users with dignity and respect.

In terms of more specific areas of performance, the CQC found:-

  • Safeguarding referrals increased by almost a third to 103,030, with those for older people and those with mental health problems showing the largest percentage increase. This was interpreted as reflecting greater awareness of safeguarding.
  • The number of people who received intermediate care to facilitate hospital discharage rose by 8.9% to 170,531 in 2009-10, while the number receiving intermediate care to prevent hospital admission rose by 7.8% to 159,561. Almost a quarter of councils saw a reduction in admissions to hospital or residential care.
  • The number of older people supported by telecare rose by 167,685 in 2009-10.
  • Spending on advocacy services rose by 12% to £23.2m in 2009-10.
  • The number of carers who accessed direct payments to enable them to work rose from 21,116 in 2008-9 to 33,883 in 2009-10.

Government reforms to the performance assessment of adult care will see councils taking more responsibility for their own performance management, including through peer reviews.

The CQC said the seven councils rated adequate overall would need to improve in all areas, and be given support from within local government to improve, overseen by the DH.

Five out of the eight councils that were rated as adequate last year improved, while four are newly rated as adequate, including Wirral and Redcar and Cleveland, which recently received poor inspection reports from the CQC because of safeguarding failings. The other ‘adequate’ authorities are Central Bedfordshire, Cornwall, Gateshead, Solihull and South Tyneside.

Nine councils improved to receive an excellent rating this year: Barnet, Durham, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kirklees, Leicestershire, Rutland, Sandwell and Trafford.

“Councils have achieved improvement year-on-year since the annual performance assessment was introduced in 2002,” said CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower. “Now the challenge for them, as we move to a new approach, is to continue to perform at this level and to strive to improve even further.”

Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “This is an exciting new development which will give councils the responsibility of helping each other more explicitly. As today’s report shows, this is a sector which knows how to deliver high standards of social care services and we will be looking to share that expertise across all councils to improve outcomes for the increasing numbers of people who need care and support.”

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