Councils must look to resolve social care enquiries ‘at front door’
Councils lack clear strategies for managing demand for social care services and insufficient data to analyse how best to use resources and improve services for patients, including better assessment and signposting for patients at first point of contact, a report by the Institute for Public Care (IPC) has found.
The findings recommended six steps towards delivering better social care in the community.
It found that there was a need to focus on the two ‘front doors’ of social care: public enquiries with GPs and nurses, and hospital enquiries which were usually made over the phone or online. It warned that councils needed to be better equipped to respond to this range of contact points to manage demand properly and in a more efficient way by getting patients to the right place first time round.
If councils were able to address this, the IPC argues that as much as 75% of social care enquiries could be resolved at first contact, lessening the number of referrals to council services.
The organisation also emphasised the need for professionals in health and social care to work together to assess needs and identify the right services to deliver the best outcome for patients, adding that the “primary aim should always be to help a person to return home”.
“Two features often missing from councils’ approaches to delivering social care are a clear strategy on managing demand and the analysis of data required to understand the impact of that strategy,” the report read.
It also stressed a more positive approach to care, saying: “Earlier approaches to assessment have focused on what people are unable to do rather than considering what they are capable of and their potential, and points out how some councils which take this focus reduce costs and demand.
“Promoting independence and reduced dependency can benefit both individuals and councils, as can support such as psychological support for people coming to terms with a new disability.”
The findings also underlined the importance of governance and management arrangements to implement improvements, explaining that “clarity of vision, support of elected members, senior council leaders, partners and citizens are required to deliver change”.
“This can be achieved through regular forums, team working across organisations and good performance management arrangements,” the organisation added.
The IPC’s calls come as social care across the country remains one of the most pressing issues for local authorities to address on limited funds, as only £2bn worth of funds over the next three years was announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in the Budget earlier this month.
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