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By Debbie le Quesne

Assessments and the £312m scandal

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Last month councils in England, we were told, could save £312m annually on adult social care if they carried out client assessments more effectively.

The news came from the Audit Commission and the general public spending watchdog added some councils conducted reviews at the same quality as others but more cheaply.

It also said that any chance for councils to save money in this area should be “pursued enthusiastically”.

Every council in England is responsible for helping with the care of the elderly, the seriously ill and the disabled. But the cost of assessing these people, to find out what level of assistance is needed, varies widely.

Local authorities and the NHS clearly need to work better together in the interests of the patient and my worry is that people are often the last thought when agencies are arguing among themselves about whether care is social or medical with both trying to palm the bill off on the other.

Truth is, often both social and medical care are inextricably linked and that’s why we desperately need joined up thinking and good communication here.

Recently the BBC reported that In 2010/11 English councils did about 1.8m assessments of people’s needs and reviews of the resulting care, at a cost of £2.2bn – 12 per cent of gross spending on adult social care.

Audit Commission managing director Andy McKeon was reported as saying: “Assessments and reviews are a crucial element of social care, enabling individuals’ needs to be properly identified and met. However, our evidence suggests that councils can spend less and still do an excellent job in helping people receive the care that they need.

“As councils struggle to meet the needs of a growing older population with less cash, any opportunity to save money and redirect it into care should be pursued enthusiastically.”

Yes please! The audit commission pointed out thatsome councils spent about half the amount of other councils on each assessment and review, and . . . it was done while undertaking a similar volume of work and achieved the same standards of quality.

Potential savings, the commission added, could fund the annual home care of 20,000 older people. This is a huge saving.

What I don’t know is how many local authorities are succeeding and how many failing in this way.

I have no doubts that all councils are working hard to offer the best value for money but with these findings in the spotlight it is incumbent some mechanism is found to propagate more efficiency and for good models to be rolled out nationally. Frankly, the more I dwell on the commission findings, the more I’m convinced care for the elderly and marginalised is becoming a national scandal to equal that of the bankers and MPs’ expenses.

Reduced government funding, an increasing elderly population and an economy in the doldrums: At 7.20am it’s far too early for a stiff drink to calm my ‘twitch’ so a mug of comforting coffee will have to do.

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Written by debbielq

September 11, 2012 at 7:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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