Council plans adult social care overhaul which ‘flips assessment system on its head’

Nursing homes are struggling due to low rates and staff shortages.

Nursing homes are struggling due to low rates and staff shortages. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A new vision to tackle ‘significant challenges’ faced in adult social care has been approved by North Somerset Council.

A report which was presented to the authority’s executive committee last week highlights the growing demand for services across the district.

During the summer and autumn of 2017, officers developed a new way of assessing people’s care needs, proposing to make more use of community resources and family support networks.

The report says: “Adult social care faces significant challenges due to increasing demand for services in the context of tightly constrained Government funding.

“This has been recognised at a national level but reform to the funding system has been repeatedly postponed.

“It is therefore important that local authorities act proactively to manage demand and ensure good quality services can continue to be provided to those who need them most.”

Hayley Verrico, assistant director for adult support and safeguarding at the council, presented the report.

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She says care assessments need to be ‘flipped on their head’ to judge people’s ‘strengths’ instead of weaknesses.

Mrs Verrico said: “As the Care Act stands at the moment we have to assess people on what they can’t do so it is identifying deficits in people.

“What I say is we need to flip that on its head and we need to be assessing people for what they can do for themselves, what their family can do and what their community can do.

“It is only after we have exhausted all those possibilities that we will then begin to look at others.

“We have got an awful lot of community resources which we are not tapping into.

“Providers are actually coming to us now and saying ‘tell us what it is you want us to provide and we will work with you to do that’.

“We will clearly be articulating to the public that we are assessing differently, we are assessing their strengths and assets, and we will not step in and take over what families are doing.

“If families are saying to us we are quite happy to support our mum, for example with her shopping or cleaning, we will not go in and say ‘as well as your personal care we are going to take over these things.”