Councils fall behind on Care Act reviews

First official figures on council performance under Care Act show just over half of service users received reviews

Picture: Gary Brigden

Local authorities in England have fallen short of an expectation that care plans should be reviewed at least once a year under the Care Act, official figures reveal.

Data published today by NHS Digital shows that 55 per cent of people who had been receiving care for at least 12 months did not receive a review during 2015-16. Where reviews had been carried out, around half led to changes in care plans. A third of carers in contact with councils did not receive a review or assessment.

Under the Care Act guidance there is an expectation that reviews take place “no later than every 12 months”.

In May Community Care revealed social work teams were racking up backlogs of reviews due to staff shortages, with some service users waiting up to 18 months to be seen.

A month later, a report by the House of Commons public accounts committee called on the government to consider whether the annual review requirement was creating ‘unnecessary’ costs for local authorities.

The NHS Digital publication marks the first official data on local authority performance in the first year of the Care Act, with the legislation coming into force in April 2015. Key findings included:

  • Councils received 1.81m requests for support from new clients in 2015-16, a slight decrease on the 1.83m received the previous year.
  • More than half (57%) of requests resulted in no direct support from the council, including 28% that resulted in signposting or universal services.
  • Councils delivered long-term social care support to 873,000 people during the year, down from the 885,000 in 2014-15.
  • There were 387,000 carers in contact with local authorities, of whom 314,000 (81%) received direct support.

Campaigners expressed concern that fewer people were accessing care and support and called on ministers to prioritise social care funding in next month’s Autumn Statement.

Vicky McDermott, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “Today’s publication makes sobering reading, showing that fewer people are receiving long-term support despite demographic pressures meaning that more and more people need it.

“Because of a lack of funds, cuts to care budgets mean that vulnerable older people, disabled people and their carers are being forced out of the system.”

Reviewing care plans under the Care Act 2014

If you are a Community Care Inform Adults subscriber and you require more information on the Care Act’s review requirements, check out this webinar. Leading legal trainer Belinda Schwehr sets out the key areas of knowledge that social care professionals require in relation to councils’ duties to review care plans.

Note: This article was amended on 6 October with revised 2014-15 figures submitted to NHS Digital from councils

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4 Responses to Councils fall behind on Care Act reviews

  1. Anonymous October 6, 2016 at 6:29 am #

    Care in the community doesn’t work. You tried it. It has failed. The facts say it for themselves. People living on their own, won’t magically become better again, just because a carer visits their home. They need more. They need friends. Never mind all of these nurses, carers, etc.

    • Daniel October 6, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

      Clearly you are not a social worker, and if you are, I think you should think about an alternative profession… Care in the community does work, but when budgets are slashed, it makes it very difficult to support people as well as we would all want. I’m not sure why you would think that living in an institution would work better. People can still be very isolated in residential care. Next you’ll be saying “bring back the work houses”…

      • A social worker October 11, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

        ‘Clearly you are not a social worker, and if you are, I think you should think about an alternative profession…’

        Having a qualification in social work isn’t a prerequisite for commenting on Community Care news articles. In fact, I’d appreciate seeing more commentary from non-SWs, especially service users and carers who can offer much-needed and insightful alternative narratives, such as the one below, from ‘John’, who appears to have a better grasp of the Care Act than a lot of qualified social workers I know.

  2. John October 7, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    I have a stepson with learning disabilities and have had 3 annual reviews over 3 years , all 3 have been a nightmare.This is because the main aim of the social worker was to cut his personal budget. It certainly wasn’t needs based. It certainly wasn’t within the ethos of the care act , it was not holistic , flexible or innovative. It certainly wasn’t thinking about my stepsons wellbeing or our’s as carers .Personally I would rather less reviews , because nothing is going to change .If anything it will get worse as he gets older .At the moment he is stable. So it would save a lot of time if the social worker were to read the previous review and telephone and ask if there was any change to which my answer would be no .Job done, and resources saved. They are then free to give and give someone else grief.