DHSC to publish every council’s waiting times for adult social care assessments and services

Cutting waiting times from recent high levels among three targets set by government for councils in return for £1bn market sustainability fund, but ADASS warns against using figures to compare councils against each other

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The government plans to publish data on every council’s waiting times for adult social care assessments and services, it has revealed.

The DHSC announced the plans in guidance on councils’ use of its ring-fenced market sustainability and improvement fund (MSIF), a grant designed to drive improved performance in adult social care, including by cutting waiting times.

The statistics will cover the average time people wait from a request or referral for a service to, firstly, an assessment, and, secondly, the service starting. The figures will be broken down into the four main service types: community, residential, nursing and short-term care.

Up to 500,000 waiting for an assessment or service

The news comes with a succession of Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) surveys recording between 400,000 and 500,000 people waiting for an assessment, review, direct payment or care package at any one time since 2021.

These have also shown a doubling in the numbers waiting six months for an assessment, from about 41,000 to approximately 85,000, from 2021-23.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) intends to include the figures in the adult social care statistics it publishes monthly, though the waiting times figures will be issued on, at most, a quarterly basis.

They will be drawn from councils’ quarterly submissions of client level data (CLD) to NHS England, which they have been providing since summer 2023. This involves authorities submitting data on individuals who use services, which is then pseudonymised.

Waiting times statistics

The department said it would use this data to identify when a person started receiving a service, when they were assessed for that service and when they requested, or were referred for, the service.

It would then publish average times between request and assessment and request and service, broken down by service type, at a local authority level.

The department said it was still working with sector representatives on the details of the waiting times metrics, so it is not clear when it will start publishing the data.

Warning against using figures to compare councils

ADASS welcomed the plan but warned against using it to compare councils’ average waiting times against each other.

“CLD provides real potential to draw out a better understanding of waiting times and waiting lists, and individuals’ experience and outcomes,” said an ADASS spokesperson.

“Different approaches in how councils manage their waiting lists, and in how they record initial contacts and other events makes comparison or national overview and understanding difficult to achieve.”

CQC metrics on waiting times

The metrics are different to those that the Care Quality Commission is requesting of councils to inform its assessments of authorities under its so-called assurance framework. These comprise:

  • The size of the waiting list, average and maximum waiting times and target timescales for care assessments, care reviews, carer’s assessments, financial assessments, assessments for equipment and equipment provision.
  • The average and maximum waiting times and target timescales for reviewing safeguarding referrals, and allocating safeguarding enquiry and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards cases.

£1bn performance-based fund

The MSIF grant is worth £1.05bn in 2024-25, up from £927m in 2023-24.

MSIF is split into two parts:

  1. £162m element designed to help councils maintain increases in provider fees made in 2022-23 under the government’s ‘fair cost of care’ policy, which is designed to ensure fees cover the costs of care.
  2. A £888m element, which councils must use on at least one of three target areas: increasing provider fee rates, boosting adult social care workforce capacity and reducing waiting times. They must also maintain improvements made across the three areas in 2023-24.

The DHSC said those authorities who chose to improve fee rates in 2024-25 would be expected to report the average percentage increases in rates for providers in each of the main service types, from 2023-24 to 2024-25.

In relation to workforce expansion, the department will calculate the proportionate growth in the size of the workforces in registered domiciliary and care home providers in each local authority’s area, from 2023-24 to 2-24-25. It will extract data from the capacity tracker, through which providers supply data on their services and staffing, including their headcount.


4 Responses to DHSC to publish every council’s waiting times for adult social care assessments and services

  1. Val Pain May 4, 2024 at 11:07 am #

    I have experience of these waiting times.My hubby was in hospital following a fall which was found to be caused by low blood pressure.This was treated & he was declared fit for discharge after 10 days.3 months later,after waiting for care package,he had become so weak could barely walk.His whole ward were waiting for care & got no exercise or stimulation.
    He was in a much worse state than before,when he could,walk,shower,cook,drive etc.Now he can,t do any of those things.When he finally did get a Care Package we were made to sign a form agreeing to pay if financial assessment showed he wouldn,t qualify.The local Council chose the Care Company who were useless & we didn’t,t even know the cost until received extortionate bill from Council,The whole system is totally broken.

  2. Wayne May 6, 2024 at 12:17 am #

    Mother went in hospital for constipation, that was fine after 10 days. Shes now been in 108 days, as they state we need cares for her to come home, as she has dementia, shes gone so much worst in hospital, more frail, losing 10 pounds, nothing to do, no one to talk to, normal person would go nuts, ut her with dementia. Shes getting no exersons, and dimentai not so good at as before. And they are saying, THIS IS FOR HER GOOD AND WELL BEING ??? I am totally disgusted, as basically they are holding my mother without her free will, mine and my father free will.
    They put her on DoLS, but did not tell me and my father until 4/6 weeks after, can they put on DoLS, with telling us ??? When she comes home, have social workers got anything on her, have we have to leave them in the house, which we will. And can we get rid of the carers after a week or two, as we dont want strangers walking around our house. I and my father do all the cooking, and will not let anyone else, my father showers her, and she will not let anyone else, ad we have paid cleaners. So what the the ceares for, what can they do, not sit in the living room with us there, not want that, not at all.
    They the social workers are getting, or been trying to get carers for us for this long. We found private carers in just one day, but the social workers say we cant have them. IS THERE A UK LAW SAYING WE CANT have our own paid carers before theirs come please ???
    As its also my father here all the time, and me 80% of the time, other than I go to work 6 hours. My mothers fineish before al this, we got on great before this and she was no problem, other than her repeating and forgetting things. We used to dress up and go out for meals and drinks with us three times a week, and will still when she comes home, as shes looking forward to that.
    Thank you all for your help.

    • Ann B May 7, 2024 at 7:52 pm #

      Hi Wayne. If you don’t have Lasting Power of Attorney for your mother it is possible for social services to make some decisions for your mum, and around her care, without your consent if they feel it is in her Best Interests.
      If you are worried the carers wont be helpful at home, I would suggest seeing how the transition home goes, using them if you can, and then review it after a week or two. Ask for a review from your mother’s social worker. You can also talk to the care agency manager about their carers and what jobs you want them to help with.
      Your mum will probably have more needs than you may realise on her return home. Communicate directly with the care agency and the social worker for any worries or questions you have.

      You can legally employ any care agency you like, even a private one, BUT it is likely the social workers said you couldn’t have the private ones because the council will not pay the prices of the private ones. If you want a private one you will have to purchase and pay for it privately without the council helping financially.

      I would also suggest you look at AGE UK website for all their information sheets around care and the law, and also at SCIE online information. Alzheimer’s Society UK website also has lots of useful information for families, it might help you to look on there too.

  3. Burnt out May 14, 2024 at 8:59 pm #

    It’s abhorrent that people are waiting for any assessment in regards to health and care.

    However, bashing people to do them quicker isn’t the answer. Why have we got into this position? Persistent policies on reduction of budgets to councils and NHS providers. A non existent long term workforce plan, including review of student bursaries etc. we have a falling input of new staff and an approaching black hole of staff reaching retirement. Poor investment in training, higher demands from population health all create a perfect storm. One where solutions belong to policy decision makers. All that will happen is an already overworked, overwhelmed workforce will leave. Almost like it was be design if you are that way inclined.

    As a professional, I have encouraged all my family to go private which goes against everything I stand for. It’s not just social care that’s suffering it’s everything from primary care, secondary care, social care, education, welfare and prisons. Broken to the core, Tories out.

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