The changing role of families in social care

Can help from family members and the community keep the system alive? This is one of the questions being asked in light of recent changes adult social care and the need to find a new way of approaching provision of services with budgets being cut across the board.

In a recent round table of senior social care figures brought together by The Guardian and CapacityGRID - a platform enabling councils to share resources and knowledge - the contribution of families and communities to helping provide aspects of social care was just one of the ways it was felt adult social services could continue to provide the level of service needed despite the problem of reducing budgets.

The reality of adult social services is that, as reported by The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, in the three years to March 2014, £2.68bn - or about a fifth of the total funding budget - will have been cut from adult social care. This is against a backdrop of a government - and public - expectation that care becomes increasingly personalised with better co-ordination and integration between services such as between those delivered by local government and the NHS.

In addition there is pressure on adult social services to support those with increasingly complex needs such as dementia to remain in their own home as long as possible and support them to have choice in their care plan through personal budgets and direct payments.

Many cuts so far have revolved around councils changing eligibility criteria "in increasingly crafty ways" to restrict care to the most needy. But simply leaving more and more people with unmet needs will put pressure on services such as A&E and leave people struggling to cope.

The contributors agreed that social care needs to replace the existing approach - whereby needs assessments are carried out and then care is allocated according to eligibility - with one in which people are supported to live as independently as possible for as long as possible.

The panel believed this was a debate that everyone - politicians and the public - needed to be involved in, because of the wide-reaching nature of the topic and the wide impact change will have on the community.

The panel discussed a change in focus from services doing the majority of work to a new way of working where social care staff would focus on prevention and reablement as well as asking what people could do for themselves, or what their family and community could do - not just rely on adult social services to continue to provide most of the support.

Social care departments are finding that this approach can rapidly save them "thousands, maybe even millions", while giving clients greater independence.

The issues this raises however are how to fund the initial investment required and how to ensure that services change their culture to support a prevention and reablement approach where each person is viewed individually, with their individual circumstances being understood in order to find solutions that work for them.

This also requires a whole person/whole family and more of a 'one-stop shop' approach to ensure that services are not viewed in isolation but as a part of a bigger picture - a similar approach to that being undertaken in Barnsley as part of the Strong Families, Strong Barnsley project.

This approach does however require strong integrated networks and services and the ability for families and communities to understand how they can play an active part.

In Control's Partners in Policymaking (PiP) programmes are on solution to supporting families and the wider community to become involved in the provision of adult social care. PiP programmes help people such as disabled adults, parents and carers of disabled children, professionals and other service providers working in education, health and leisure to learn the tools needed to help them be an active participant - gaining an understanding of how the health and social care system works, learning to organise meetings and present questions without getting frustrated and be empowered to find solutions to improve people's lives. All our PiP programmes aim to give participants the confidence to work in partnership to enable them or their loved ones to have choice and control over their lives.

To read more about the Guardian and CapacityGrid panel discussion visit:

For more information about In Control's Partners in Policymaking programmes visit: /what-we-do/partners-in-policymaking.aspx



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Last Updated : 11 December 2013. Page Author: marijke.hirst.