Just over half of people receiving care had review of support plan in past year, shows official data

Councils say drop in proportion of people being reviewed down to staff shortages and deprioritisation of care plan checks due to Covid

Social worker talking to older woman
Photo: Photographee.eu/Adobe Stock

Just over half of people receiving council-arranged long-term care had a review of their support plans in 2021-22, official figures have shown.

NHS Digital said 55.2% per cent of people who had been receiving long-term support for more than a year were reviewed in 2021-22, down from 58.4% in 2020-21.

Councils told the statistics body that the situation was caused, in part, by the deprioritisation of reviews during Covid-19 and staff shortages, NHS Digital said in its annual adult social care activity and finance report.

While annual reviews of care and support plans are not a legal requirement, the Care Act 2014 statutory guidance states that “it is an expectation that authorities should conduct a review of the plan no later than every 12 months”. Councils must follow the guidance unless they can demonstrate legally sound reasons for departing from it.

The figures follow Association of Directors of Adult Services reports of waiting lists for assessments, care packages, personal budgets and reviews reaching 542,000 in April 2022, up 37% on six months previously.

Spending rising but fewer receiving support

NHS Digital reported that overall spending on adult social care rose by 3.8% in real terms, to £26.9bn, including resources provided by people using care and support and the NHS.

However, while there was also a 3.3% rise in requests for support, to 1,978,550, there was a fall of 4.3% (7,255) in the number of requests resulting in the person receiving long-term care, to 162,590.

This contributed to a fall of 2.8% (23,325) in the overall number of people receiving long-term care, to 817,915, the lowest number since records began in 2015-16. This was almost entirely driven by falls in the number of older people receiving long-term care, which fell by 4% to 529,010.

NHS Digital said councils attributed the falls to reduced service capacity or availability and staff shortages, reflecting other data, including the 50,000 fall in the number of filled adult social care posts over the same period recorded by Skills for Care.

However, expenditure on long-term care rose by 6.5% in real terms, to £16.6bn, because of rises in the unit costs of care.

Spending on short-term care grew by 13.2% in real terms, to £767m, just over half of which went on reablement and other services designed to maximise independence, for which there was a growth of 2.3% in the number of episodes provided.

Ongoing fall in support for carers

Real-terms expenditure also went up on support for carers, by 13.4%, to £176m. However, the number receiving direct support continued to fall. When those receiving information, advice, universal services or signposting are excluded, the number being directly supported by councils fell from 108,520 to 101,925, continuing a drop from 121,520 in 2015-16. The number (33,300) receiving respite from their role was steady compared with 2020-21.

In a report this month released before NHS Digital’s latest data, think-tank the Nuffield Trust said the drop in the number of carers supported represented a failure to live up to the promise of an increased policy focus on carers, including the introduction of a right to support under the Care Act 2014.

The trust attributed this “mismatch” to factors including a lack accountability within central and local government in relation to delivering for carers, insufficient consideration of the impact of other policies on the group and council budgetary constraints.


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2 Responses to Just over half of people receiving care had review of support plan in past year, shows official data

  1. Whoever November 1, 2022 at 11:17 am #

    I feel I need to suggest something, as a service user. Even though I receive care in my own home [Supported-living flat with the usual communal area’s/communal rooms], I feel like I’m receiving more support than is actually necessary. It’s making me feel distressed, as I don’t need this level of care to the extent of what I’m currently getting. My suggestion is, the support workers and social workers, should ask service users how much care they’re wanting, before putting our care plans in place. Just so that it’s not overbearing for service users who don’t need care or support as much as others. Rather than have the service user reject the offers of care, and then them all questioning why. And then the funding money won’t go to waste. Only pay out the amount of funding to a care firm, the amount of money that will match however much the individuals support is worth. The problem is also too much funding money being spent on care and support, for people like me, who don’t even need that much of it. I’m not in need of a LOT of support or care. I like being independent. Jmo.

  2. Anonymous November 3, 2022 at 5:39 am #

    Reviews are a priority that councils can’t continue to ignore. With budgets being squeezed, why are packages not reviewed to identify where needs may have decreased as well as increased.

    Does this mean that demand isn’t rising as quickly as we think…. Investment in social work capacity is desperately needed.