Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Report Finds No Residents Adversely Affected by Changes to Adult Care

Earlier this year, when I was Lead Member for Adult Social Care I led changes to the Council's Eligibility Criteria for Adult Social Care to 'Substantial' and 'Critical'.

I did this to ensure that adult care would be available for people who need it now and in the future - putting social care in Reading on a sustainable footing.

These changes were approved by the Council in March. You can read the full background to this decision - which was far from easy - here.

As I said at the time:
"My priority from now on will be focussing on ensuring the implementation of these policies is carried out as  flexibly and sensitively as possible by the Council's Community Care team which I lead"
The previous Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition Cabinet of which I was a member delegated the implementation plan for these changes to the Director Housing and Community Care in consultation with the Lead Councillor responsible for Adult Care.

Labour attacked me for this approach at the time. I put my trust in experienced professionals. In my view ppoliticians should lead policy-making not meddle in the implementation of Council policies - particularly in areas where they lack professional expertise.

Labour councillors also accused me of cutting services from vulnerable people.

An update report on access to adult social care services, requested by Labour councillors which went to Cabinet last night and which has been widely trailed in the local media proves that the approach we took was the right one and Labour got it wrong.

The report describes the individual reviews that have been undertaken to determine eligibility of people in receipt of care packages with 'Greater Moderate needs'.

The report provides evidence for Cabinet to satisfy itself about the safe implementation of the change in eligibility criteria, namely that it:
  • is fair and equitable
  • is not having a major or adverse impact on people who have had their needs assessed at being a greater moderate level
  • provides appropriate advice, help and support to those people who have lower level needs but would benefit from continuing help and support
  • meets the legal tests set in the Birmingham judgement
The report clearly shows that these tests have been met.

The key paragraph is this one:
'The majority of clients who have now received a personal review to reassess their level of need have continued to receive services as a result of their recorded needs having been revised into a higher banding.'
I've read the report and nowhere does it suggest that any resident currently receiving care has been adversely affected. This is welcome, important news.

When I launched the changes earlier this year I said it would be absolutely vital that reviews were carried out carefully to ensure that no-one lost out.

This report shows that the modelling officers did of the changes were accurate. In many cases residents who were in the 'Moderate' category have moved up a band and are receiving in more care rather than less.

The impact of the Council's highly-successful Reablement programme continues to deliver astonishing results - with many people with a range of support needs being reabled to live independently in their own homes without needing to rely on formal care.

This is a great outcome for those individuals and it helps ensure public money goes further - focussing on those people who can't cope without help and support from the Council or other care providers.

The report goes into great detail about the outcomes of reviews.

As a keen supporter of greater transparency, If I were lead member I would be more than happy to publish this information.

However, the difference between me and my Coalition colleagues last year is that we were prepared to front up and take tough decisions.

On evidence of the past few years there is no way that Labour councillors would have taken the decisions that needed to be taken on adult care.

The best they can do is monitor the decisions taken by others braver than them.

Making these changes will lead to savings of around £250,000 from the Council's budget.

This is important.

Why? because the Council is currently facing £2 million pounds worth of in-year pressures linked to rising demand for adult care.

This is about reforming our community care policies so they are fit for purpose and so we can help people not just now but in the future.

How would Labour deal with these pressures? Cut spending on other Council services?

Introduce demand management?

We'll never know.

One thing is clear Labour would always rather hide behind officers and other politicial parties when it comes to making difficult decisions such as these.

Politicians aside, it's people who matter and last night I thanked the outstanding team working in adult social care on Reading Borough Council - from social workers to senior management who have managed these changes safely and effectively.

I also thanked the residents and their families who have been so patient during this process.