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CARE COALITION ALLEGATIONS OVER QUALITY PROVOKE STORM

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Social services directors have angrily rejected research by the Continuing Care Conference which finds councils' lo...
Social services directors have angrily rejected research by the Continuing Care Conference which finds councils' long-term care commissioning is failing to meet best value criteria.

CCC is a coalition of private sector and public service organisations, charities and consumer groups which promotes better long-term care for older people. It surveyed 145 councils in England, Scotland and Wales with a response rate of just over 75%.

A survey report includes the following findings:

The price paid for care by councils rarely reflects its quality and only 21% of councils have purchasing policies incorporating quality issues

Prices are not compared properly because of different methods of purchasing from in-house and independent providers

Councils are driving the market through fixed fee levels unrelated to the cost of services

Independent providers may be driven out of business because social services are so cash-strapped.

The report says the slow progress 'is very disappointing and suggests that if best value tests are applied effectively there will be major issues for local authorities over the coming few years'.

Middlesbrough BC corporate director of social services Glenys Jones said the report was outrageous. 'Where is the evidence? Unmet need and demand come together to influence the shape and direction of the market, and local authorities have managed that quite carefully,' she said.

Association of Directors of Social Services resources committee chair Bruce Buckley said: 'I recognise part of it, but it's a particular point in time and things are moving on and progressing positively. There's increasing evidence authorities are moving towards more diverse strategies of commissioning.'

Darlington BC social services director Colin Morris said some councils would be severely criticised by best value inspectors on this point. 'I think my own won't because we have just put in a proposal to remove ourselves from the direct provision of residential care.'

Local authority contracting policies for residential and nursing home care is available from the Continuing Care Conference, tel: 020 7222 1265. Or see LGCnet THE LONG-TERM CARE LOTTERY CONTINUES SAYS CCC.

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