Laura Sharman 10 October 2017

Future of adult social care is 'precarious’ warns report

The majority of adult social care services have been rated as good, but regulators have warned the future quality of services are ‘precarious’.

The annual State of Care report, published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), found 78% of adult social care services were rated good.

However, the inspections of of nearly 29,000 services also found the health and social care system is struggling to meet the more complex needs of today’s population.

The changing nature of demand is also putting the system under ‘unprecedented pressure’, the report concluded.

‘The fact that the quality of care has been maintained in the toughest climate that most can remember is testament to the efforts of frontline staff, managers and leaders,’ said Sir David Behan, chief executive of CQC.

‘Many providers have used our inspection reports to improve, and we have seen improvements in safety in particular, although this area remains a big concern and focus for us. However, as people’s health and care needs change and become more complex, a model of care designed for the 20th century is at full stretch and struggling to cope with 21st century problems.’

In response, the Local Government Association (LGA) said it was encouraging that the quality of adult social care services have improved on last year.

However, cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, warned: ‘Social care faces a perfect storm, and the CQC report is yet another timely warning from a key part of the sector, of the need to resolve the short and long-term future of care as an urgent priority.’

She added: ‘We have warned that despite the helpful one-off funding of £2bn announced in the Spring Budget, social care faces an annual funding gap of £2.3bn by 2020. Government must use the forthcoming Autumn Budget to set out how it plans to address this.’

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: ‘This is the second year in a row that the chief inspector at CQC has had to outline the precarious state of social care to parliament. Parliament can ill afford to ignore the warnings from CQC; there is an urgent need for a long term funding settlement that will reach the frontline and support sustainable quality services.’

The National Care Forum (NCF) said significant gains could be made through the adoption of new technologies to enhance quality care.

Vic Rayner, executive director of NCF, added: 'Insufficient funding, a crisis in recruitment and retention especially of nurses and handing back of contracts to local authorities does not make for comfortable reading. Urgent investment and a full analysis of the changes required must happen now.'

The emphasis on delayed transfers of care (DTOC) and looming winter pressures is ‘short-sighted’ and arguments with the NHS are a ‘waste of time,’ a senior social care director has warned The MJ.

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