Why the adult social care debate really matters

By on 10/10/2013 in Blog, Cllr Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, reflects on the publication of a new policy paper issued by the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council: 'Turning the welfare state upside down?' Developing a new adult social care offer.

Phrases like 'fundamentally broken' and 'increasingly unfit for purpose in the early 21st century' do not make pleasant reading. But both phrases can be found in today’s comprehensive report from Professor Jon Glasby and his colleagues at the University of Birmingham.

They may make unpleasant reading but the simple fact is that as a nation we have to accept that the adult social care system is past its sell by date.

That’s hardly surprising. This is a system that was invented just after the Second World War and the sad fact is that it hasn’t evolved as quickly as the rest of the world.

People have different aspirations and expectations and the system that operates across the country just doesn’t fit the reality of 2013.

We recognise these facts in Birmingham and that’s why in June we published a green paper looking at the future of Adults and Community Services across the city.

So why the urgency now?

Like local authorities across the country, this council is facing a big challenge, having to cut the budget we can control by half over seven years. In the past we have often made changes to improve our services and get better value for money. But we now face cuts in government funding on a scale that has never been seen before.

So we will need to make big changes to balance the books in the years ahead and as these changes will have an impact on everyone in the city, we want to discuss them with you before going ahead.

Please take part in our online survey before 21 October

To give you some idea of our thinking on this massive challenge, the initial proposals arising from the review are:

  • We are considering developing services for children with disabilities which span their lifetime. We will look at incentives to providers to promote earlier planning and independence. This plan will include identifying employment opportunities and creative thinking about removing barriers to living in their own home;
  • We want to improve the care management of frail elderly people, across health and care. This looks like better planning for very frail people already in care homes, so that increasing needs at the end of life can be met in the care home, not by transfer to hospital. This plan will set pave the way for better multi agency working for people outside hospital. It will give older people and their families the confidence that they will be cared for appropriately, in their own home. It will also look at providing a more coordinated response to a whole range of events from falls, to strokes, to intermediate care and end of life;
  • We are considering a radical new approach by establishing a social enterprise to enable specialist care services to trade outside the council. There are potential gains from this operating model and could save the council around £2.5m in three years;
  • We are considering ceasing council owned residential provision for short breaks for people with disabilities and their carers because the alternative of offering individual budgets would provide more choice and a more effective use of resources.

The University of Birmingham report underlines exactly why we've been working on this pressing issue for some time now. We are changing the way we deliver adult social care in Birmingham and we will develop a system that meets the needs of Birmingham's older people for generations to come.

Please take part in our online survey before 21 October

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