TheBoldOpinion: adult care services - opportunities for improvement
By Andrew Stark. Published 2020-09-17
The adult social care sector continues to see systemic problems as evidenced through the ombudsman's latest complaints report. We need less government rhetoric and more BOLD action to be taken to support those who are supporting us.
Our first point is that we have only the utmost respect and love for those providing care to our loved ones. Any criticisms in this article are based on systemic and organisational issues that need to be resolved and not the individual carers who are doing a job that most of us would not be able to do.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman released their annual review of adult social care complaints yesterday, the 16th of September 2020. It covers the period to March 2020 which is pre-covid so we will have to wait another year before seeing the impact of covid-19. In fact the ombudsman paused their casework when the lockdown started in March and have only recently taken up cases again so while we may have expected to see an increase in the number of complaints if social media "gripes" are anything to go by that may not be reflected in the numbers; we'll have to wait and see.
The LGSCO look at all complaints about councils, adult social care providers and other organisations providing social care services. Overall there was a decrease of 35 complaints submitted to the LGSCO, however there was an increase in the percentage of cases that were upheld from 67% to 68%. The highest increase was in the category of assessment and care planning which saw both an increase in the absolute number of complaints as well as the percentage upheld which went from 60% to 68%.
It isn't just this year that shows assessment and care planning being an issue though. In the 2017/2018 report it was said "assessment and care planning, and how care is paid for, remain some of the biggest areas of complaint. Even more concerning is that the issues we see demonstrate a shift from one-off mistakes to problems with whole systems and policies, or procedures being incorrectly applied." (emphasis is ours)
Key learning points from the 2018/2019 report show that in the assessment and care planning area that councils needed to ensure that care packages were not changed at short notice and not made without proper assessments of need. In this latest report the CEO of Care England, Martin Green OBE, is quoted "we always welcome any new learning that providers can take from these reports and similarly the annual review which brings everything together".
While we concede that this increase is an aggregate number and that we need to get into the detail of individual complaints and action plans at an individual facility it also highlights that there continues to be a systemic issue which is only going to be exacerbated by covid-19. Did we need a report to tell us that or should we have been listening to our frontline carers and support workers who have spoken of issues on social media and in the news for a while. And so what? What can, and are, we going to do about it rather than just complain?
As BOLDIES we have the life and professional experience to help improve these systemic issues. We call on the government to stop relying on so called experts to provide report upon report upon report of learnings and actually look at implementing improvements. Enough with the rhetoric and time for community action. How much money has been wasted on not only these reports but also the multitude of agencies that are involved and that are doing the same things, but slightly differently. Again, as BOLDIES, we see the waste in the system and want to do something about it and at TheBoldAge that's exactly what we intend to do. Watch this space.
Your council's performance
You can view your council's performance here with the site being easy enough to use; the example below shows that in the 2019/2020 year 67% of complaints investigated in the Tower Hamlets council were upheld. What's concerning looking at some of the complaints is the seriousness of them and the fact they had to go to an ombudsman to be upheld; for example one complaint which was upheld concerned the council's treatment of the claimant when she was threatened with homelessness. This beggars the question as to why it took the complaint to get all the way to the ombudsman for the council to be told to assist the claimaint to find appropriate accommodation.