Review of council services
Services provided directly by East Sussex County Council for older people and those with learning disabilities are to be reviewed to ensure they will meet the challenge of supplying modern and excellent care for adults over the coming years. The review of dozens of home care, day care, residential, respite and community support services will assess whether they are providing council tax payers value for money and, if they are not, how they can be provided more efficiently and effectively.
The county council is also asking whether the services match up to the best standards in the independent and voluntary sectors.
The two-year exercise, which will centre around a large-scale consultation with service users, their families and carers, is designed to respond to continually increasing numbers of adults with complex needs.
This is happening at a time when the NHS is shifting resources away from acute services, meaning ever-greater levels of care and support will be needed in communities, rather than hospitals.
Cllr Bill Bentley, Lead Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said the review would help address the growing financial pressure on adult care services at a time when funding increases from Central Government are failing to keep pace. "The number of adults with social care needs is continually increasing, largely because health and care standards are improving and vulnerable residents are living longer," he said. "The council has met that added pressure by increasing spending on adult care services by more than 8m this year and by committing around 6m extra in each of the next three years.
"However, the council received just 1.6m extra from Central Government this year and we are unlikely to get the funding we need in future years to sustain this kind of spending. With pressure on services out-stripping funding, we can't do this without significantly increasing council tax - and we are not prepared to do that. So we have to deliver more for the resources we have, which is what this essential review is all about."
The review is also designed to meet the Government's vision - set out in its recent White Paper 'Our Health, Our Care, Our Say' - that service users should be empowered to commission and shape their own services, rather than having to rely solely on what local authorities can provide directly.
Cllr Bentley added: "We will audit the whole range of our directly provided services in terms of everything from policies and procedures to performance and quality of care provided." "We will look at how we compare to other high-performing councils and see what we can learn from the best of the independent and voluntary sectors. But, most importantly, we will be asking the people who use our services, and their families and carers, for their views. By making savings and becoming more efficient, we will be able to re-invest resources to support people in their own homes. And that will help us achieve our goal of moving away from bed-based services so people can continue to live in their own communities where their friends and families usually are.
"What we know already is that we need to modernise and become even more streamlined to keep up pace with a changing social care profile - and that if we do nothing, we will not be able to meet all of the needs of our citizens effectively."
The review of the county council's directly provide services for older people and people with learning disabilities was approved at a meeting of the council's Cabinet today (Weds). It is planned to begin next month.