Adult Social Services and Health Committee 24/09/13

Sutton-logo-bigI attended the Adult Social Services and Health Committee on Tuesday this week, which covered a range of important topics.

The first (item 5) was the new self-assessment regime for local authorities for certain services after the then-health minister Paul Burstow – also my local MP – announced that the Care Quality Commission quango will no longer be inspecting all adult social services.

As the table on page 7 explains, the CQC will continue to inspect key services like residential nursing and domiciliary care. However other services like gardening, cleaning, advocacy and personal assistants will no longer be covered.

This change makes sense. While the CQC has raised standards it does not make sense to cover such local, often small-scale, services. 

The scaling back of CQC’s remit is a lot less than was originally announced, presumably hinting at a Department of Health rethink since 2010. 

I am satisfied that the quality assurance procedures in the report will provide a good guarantee that standards will be upheld but did speak out over the lack of reference to the role of carers in monitoring services.

Officers pointed out that Healthwatch are part of the monitoring and quality assurance regime, and I sincerely hope they do play a full part.

Next up was a paper (page 23) proposing further work developing new information provision, including better utilising the web. I expressed concern that the Council are still viewing the web as a one-dimensional tool to dispense information and help residents make informed choices about buying-in personal care services.

While this is extremely valuable it was important, I said, to add a new interactivity dimension so that there is constant feedback and dialogue between services providers and service users. My comments were noted.

The Committee also received a report from the respite care taskforce, led by Cllr Kirsty Jerome (page 35). I can thoroughly recommend this excellent report. The task and finish group did an excellent job.

There are a number of suggestions about how care can be improved (starting on page 53) which will need reviewing. There will be a further meeting of this taskforce who will produce a follow-up report in the new year.

I also expressed concern that while the 2011 population census identified over 3,600 carers devoting more than 50 hours of care to a loved-one each week, the number of carers being provided with respite was much lower. There was a debate about this, and I shall be following this issue up at a later date.

By Cllr Lester Holloway