Talking Alexa: how assistive technology can help adult social care services | Community Care

At this year’s ADASS spring seminar, incoming president Glen Garrod told delegates a pinch of “creative disruption” was needed to find solutions to the problems facing adult social care.

In his speech, Garrod made particular reference to opportunities surrounding digital technology, arguing that new approaches towards the delivery of care could help people lead “more independent lives”.

Hampshire and Oxfordshire councils have embraced the potential of new technologies. Within the last year, both councils have worked with Amazon to explore how its voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant, Alexa, can deliver more personalised care to service users and relieve pressure on a stretched social care workforce.

Being home to one of the most expensive cities in the country, director of adults’ social care at Oxfordshire council Kate Terroni says the national challenge of recruiting and retaining social care staff is only too real in her county.

She says the local authority is faced with the challenge of finding and keeping staff with the right skill set to support a population with increasingly complex needs.

More on assistive technology:

Reducing demand on the workforce has been a core motivation behind Oxfordshire’s exploration into the potential uses of assistive technology, which Terroni hopes could “supplement and support” staff in the future.

This year, the council used its innovation fund to finance an Alexa trial, specifically focusing on how the voice assistant, housed in an Amazon Echo device (a voice-activated smart speaker), could reshape the way social services provide daytime support to people.


Source: Talking Alexa: how assistive technology can help adult social care services | Community Care

The funding panel policies testing the limits of the Care Act : Community Care

A Community Care analysis of council policies and procedures for funding panels operating in adult social care has revealed that some are testing the limits of the Care Act 2014.

A freedom of information (FOI) request was sent to English councils asking for the terms of reference documents for any panels in their adults’ services department, and any policy or practice guidance supplied to social workers about how to submit or present cases to these meetings.

A survey also ran on Community Care over the summer asking adults’ social workers to tell us about the most recent case they took to the panel in their local authority.

This research follows our earlier investigation, which suggested funding panels were being used beyond their intended purpose, as set out in the Care Act statutory guidance.

We found then that social workers were concerned panels were being used to prioritise cost savings over peoples’ needs and, in some cases, override their professional recommendations. An FOI request also found more than 20 English councils were sending all requests for new or changes to existing care packages to a panel, which legal experts have since warned is potentially unlawful.

Our latest analysis shows that the policies referenced in some funding panels’ terms of reference documents could leave councils open to legal challenge. Three social workers also told us in detail about their experience of the last case they took to panel.


Our latest FOI request received responses from 107 of England’s 152 local authorities. Of this, 60 councils said they had a terms of reference in place for the panels they operate, and 55 provided us with a copy of the relevant documents.

We analysed 11 councils’ terms of reference documents


Source: The funding panel policies testing the limits of the Care Act : Community Care

Government’s social care funding failure ‘is terrible news for disabled people’ | DisabledGo News and Blog

Disabled campaigners have reacted with alarm to the government’s decision that it will not address the social care funding crisis until the end of next year, despite announcing billions of pounds a year extra for the NHS.

Despite saying in a speech that ministers “know we need to improve social care”, prime minister Theresa May said a new funding settlement for social care would not be announced until the next spending review, expected at the end of 2019.

The health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also told MPs that the government’s green paper on older people’s social care – which had been expected next month – would now be delayed until the autumn so it could be published at “around the same time” as a new 10-year plan for the NHS.

Hunt had earlier told the BBC that the government would also produce “a long-term plan for social care” but that ministers “can’t do all these things at the same time”.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) had not been able by 1pm today (Thursday) to explain whether its parallel piece of work on working-age disabled adults and social care had also been delayed until the autumn.

A DHSC spokeswoman had refused to comment when asked why the social care funding crisis was not being addressed at the same time as NHS funding.

May and Hunt announced an average real terms increase in NHS funding of 3.4 per cent a year from 2019-20 to 2023-24, which will see NHS England’s budget increase by £20.5 billion in real terms by 2023-24.

Although the government will not say how the NHS increase will be funded until the chancellor delivers his budget at the end of this year, the increase in funding was broadly welcomed.

But there was frustration among disabled commentators and campaigners that – yet again – ministers had failed to address the need for a major increase in social care funding.


Source: Government’s social care funding failure ‘is terrible news for disabled people’ | DisabledGo News and Blog

Theresa May to warn social care must wait until 2020 for extra funds, despite pledging £20bn for NHS | The Independent

Theresa May will anger social care leaders by warning they will have to wait for desperately needed extra money, despite her promise of a £20bn a year bailout for the NHS.

There will be no large cash injection to tackle the care crisis until the “forthcoming spending review”, the prime minister will say – which is not due to kick in until 2020.

Extra money for public health will also be allocated only when all departments are told their spending resources for years beyond 2020, she will confirm in a speech in London on Monday.


Source: Theresa May to warn social care must wait until 2020 for extra funds, despite pledging £20bn for NHS | The Independent

Hunger is just one symptom of deepening social care crisis-ADASS | Care Industry News

Responding to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger’s report on malnutrition in older people, Margaret Willcox, President of ADASS, said:

“The thought of older people going hungry because they are isolated, have limited mobility, or are depressed is appalling, and social care staff do what they do because they are keen to do anything within their power to help.

“Hunger is a serious issue for older people, but it’s often just one symptom of wider issues, which is why it is our view that social care solutions should be personalised, and focus on the individual needs of the person in question.


Source: Hunger is just one symptom of deepening social care crisis-ADASS | Care Industry News

Secretary of State called to act swiftly and tackle the crisis in social care | Care Industry News

A providers’ group has called on Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt to act quickly and tackle the crisis in social care.

And they have invited Mr Hunt and his new ministerial team to visit the frontline of social care delivery as soon as possible to see the situation first-hand.

The Independent Care Group says on the face of it adding social care to Mr Hunt’s portfolio gives greater profile to the care of the country’s oldest and most vulnerable.

But it says that will only count if it is backed up by some swift action straight away and not by waiting for the summer’s Green Paper.

The Group’s Chair Mike Padgham said: “Credit where credit is due, the Prime Minister has at least acknowledged the need to address social care by adding it to Jeremy Hunt’s secretarial portfolio in a very high profile manner. On the face of it, social care now also has a dedicated minister again after it was previously downgraded to a Parliamentary Secretary of State post.

“We have to hope that this is an indication that the Government is going to treat the care of our oldest and most vulnerable residents as a greater priority. What we need to see now is the Government bite the bullet, merge health and social care into one department, properly fund social care and get on with creating a system for properly-funded, seamless care.”


Source: Secretary of State called to act swiftly and tackle the crisis in social care | Care Industry News

Warning that tens of thousands will go without much needed care and support in 2018 | Care Industry News

Social care could pass the point of no return in 2018 unless the Government orders emergency action to support the sector ahead of any reforms arising from its promised green paper.

Directors of adult social services are warning that tens of thousands more older and disabled people will go without the support they need next year – and many working adults will have to give up jobs to help care for their parents – if urgent steps are not taken to back the sector with special interim funding and a new national strategy to recruit and retain care workers and nurses for nursing homes.

So many organisations that provide care are quitting the sector because of low returns and severe recruitmentproblems that directors fear the damage will become irreversible in 2018.

Margaret Willcox, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: “We eagerly await the green paper on support of older people and the extensive reforms that are needed to place social care on a sustainable long-term footing. But we must have action in the short term to ensure that the system can survive.

“The crisis facing us is so acute that we fear social care could pass the point of no return in 2018 while we wait for decisions to be made.”


Source: Warning that tens of thousands will go without much needed care and support in 2018 | Care Industry News

Adult social care needs long term funding, starting now says ADASS : Care Industry News

Measures to address the long-term reform of adult social care need to be brought forward to tackle the significant financial, workforce and quality pressures facing the sector, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is urging.


With more than half (53%) of councils expecting to overspend their adult social care budgets this year by up to nearly £21 million each, quality challenges increasing as a result of council savings, and vacancy rates for home care staff rising, there is a fear that the sustainability of adult social care could breach its tipping point.


Despite a £2 billion injection for social care over three years, which is going to reduce delayed transfers of care from hospitals, and the publication of a Green Paper next summer, ADASS remains concerned that this does not address a continuing funding gap, increased support for people living longer with more complex needs and the costs of the welcome National Living Wage.


The challenges – which threaten the ability of councils to fulfil their statutory duty under the Care Act – are impacting now on older and disabled people and their families, as well as care markets, care workers and the NHS.


ADASS is particularly concerned that financial pressures for the increasing care needs of working age adults – those with learning or physical disabilities or mental health problems – now exceed those of older people.


With ring-fenced investment money topping a list of concerns of Directors, ADASS has made its submission to the Autumn Budget, in which it is calling on Government to:


·         Build on the additional £2 billion for the period to 2019/20 by taking further steps to secure extra recurring funding to address continuing service pressures and secure the stability of the care market


·         Bring forward at the earliest opportunity clear and wide-ranging options for consultation about putting the social care system on a more secure and sustainable long-term footing beyond 2020. This should aim to secure the right balance between the protection of private assets from catastrophic care costs and adequate public funding for those who have never been able to acquire such assets


·         Help to address the urgent workforce pressures in the sector by: affording care staff, social workers and social care nurses the same recognition as other professionals, like doctors, nurses and teachers; enhancing the status of care workers and addressing pay issues and training; and developing a national recruitment campaign and addressing the uncertainty for non-UK EU citizens who are a crucial part of our workforce.

Recognising the importance of adult social care in achieving long-term transformation of the wider health and care systems in order to promote independence and reduce the need for long-term care; and ensuring the full engagement of councils in sustainability and transformation partnerships and in the emergence of accountable care systems.

Margaret Willcox, President of ADASS, said:

“There is a growing depth of shared concerns about the quality, safety and sufficiency of adult social care services from across the sector. This is impacting on thousands of older and disabled people and their families now.

“The extra £1 billion for adult social care this year barely covers the £824 million in savings that Directors will have made this year and cannot hide the fact that by the end of this financial year, £6 billion has been cut from councils’ adult social care budgets since 2010 – with need for our services growing all that time.

“With a continuing funding gap this year and beyond, increased overspending in council budgets, care providers closing or returning contracts, rising need, extra costs due to the National Living Wage and continuing difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, the social care system remains in a perilously fragile state.

“Not only is there evidence that the future care needs of older people will be greater than previous estimates, with far more care home places required over the coming years, but greater cost pressures are now coming from the needs of working age adults.

“Dedicated and hard-working care workers are providing good, personal care despite increasing pressures, but only 4 per cent of Directors are fully confident in their ability to fulfil their statutory duties under the Care Act this year.

“Adult social care needs to be a national priority and future-proofed for current and future generations who will be needing care in increasing numbers and for a longer time during their lives.

“Whilst we are pleased that Government has committed to publishing the long-awaited Green Paper on social care next summer, more needs to be done now to secure extra recurring money to address funding gaps, address continuing service pressures and the stability of the care market.

“Proposals for the long-term reform of adult social care should be brought forward and need to address the needs of the whole population – not just older people.

“It is also vital that future funding settlement for the NHS and adult social care take account of the inter-dependency of these services and encourage collaboration rather than cost shunting.

“The need for a cross-party consensus on establishing a fair and transparent solution to adult social care is growing – and ADASS looks forward to contributing to debates on this.”


Source : Adult social care needs long term funding, starting now says ADASS : Care Industry News