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Providers of poor care 'should share blame'

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Care providers should “share the blame” with councils for poor-quality home care services, Sarah Pickup, the new president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, has said.

In a speech at the organisation’s spring seminar, Pickup said she had met some care providers soon after the publication of last year’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission report that said home care often failed to meet older people’s basic rights.

“Most of the providers present sought to place the blame at the door of commissioners,” Pickup said in the speech. “But if there is blame to be laid it is clear to me it must be shared.

“Providers might say that within the rates we Pay they can do no better,” she said. “Yet they must accept some responsibility for bidding for work at a price which they know cannot cover what is being specified.”

Pickup also warned that councils’ adult social service departments could face further pressures. “The need to save money, combined with organisational changes and pressure from a wide range of alliances and groups, could leave us frozen like rabbits in the headlights,” she said. “With no chance of an emergency stop, the results would not be pretty.”

Instead, she said, it was the responsibility of adult social service directors “to make sure we are not caught in the headlights but that we take the positive opportunities offered by change and work with partners to make a difference.”

She also said councils “would do better to work more closely with providers to consider how we can best meet needs in the most cost effective way and how we can commission services in a way that incentivises recovery and enablement rather than creating a cycle of dependency.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It is right that the blame should be shared. However, I believe you get what you commission. If the specification is poor coupled with poor contract management arrangements, these things will happen more often.

    LAs need to recruit staff that have a clear understanding of what good contract management is. It is not a tick box approach but a more interactive one with a very clear support and challenge role. There are some very sharp providers in the field delivering contracts, some are good, and some are poor. If the commissioning process does not specify the contract management arrangements outcomes will not be delivered.

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