By Janet Leifer,
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) used to assess the Council's adult social care services each year to make sure they were of a high standard. This will not happen anymore. Councils will be required to produce a self-assessment document each year called a Local Account. Local people will be able to establish how well their Adult Social Care services are performing against national and local priorities. Recently Cllr Rajput, the cabinet member responsible for Adult Social Care and Health asked for questions about the services provided by this department in the local press.
I do not think service users and carers, such as my husband and I, have the faintest idea of what this means or the implications. When the councillor, who is the cabinet member for Adult Social Care, asked residents of Barnet for questions about Adult Care Services, I was puzzled and distrusted the motives for this request. Together with a group of other concerned and mystified service users and carers in the London Borough of Barnet we composed the following response:
“An open letter to Cllr Rajput, Cabinet member for Adult Social Service
Dear Cllr. Rajput,
On 24 October, only 3 weeks ago, you sent a letter to voluntary sector organisations in Barnet, asking them to collect from their networks of users ideas for the borough's first Local Account. In your letter you wrote:
'Please help us to create our Local Account by telling us:
1. Which social care services you would like us to particularly focus on in our Local Account
2. What information in particular about these services you would find interesting to know, and what would help you to judge how successful they are
3. How we could best present and publish this information
We need your ideas by Friday 19 November 2011. '
As a group of people who have used Barnet adults social care over the past year, we have experienced a lot of cuts to our services and have been seriously affected by the changes to social care policies. We have been talking with carers and people who use various services in the borough, most of whom have experienced a deteriorating quality of life, growing risk to their health and well-being, frustration and feeling of abandonment in the face of these changes. Therefore we are puzzled about your motives in asking for service-users and carers' help in producing this Local Account. Can you please explain what a local account is and what will it be used for?
However, since you ask which services we would like information about , as a result of our conversations with service-users and carers, the following are the areas we are concerned about:
- The effects of the Fairer Contribution policy of charging for support services on service-users and carers; how many service-users have cut down their use of services?
- Barnet's use of outside contractors to provide care services - how does the council monitor and evaluate them?
- The involvement of carers in Needs Assessments and reviews of the people they care for – how fully is it implemented?
- Services for people with learning disabilities – how do they address these service-users' full needs and dignity?
- Older people's services
- Services for people suffering mental ill health
While we would have welcomed a genuine attempt to evaluate services for the sake of serving the best interests of users and carers, we have concerns that gathering the information you appeal for is impossible with such short notice. Is it really possible to collect objective and valid data, which will represent accurately the state of affairs of adults social services, including hard-to-reach groups of users, in such a short space of time? The requested date of 19th November for replies does not allow for a reliable and valid response either from voluntary sector organisations or service users and their carers. In these circumstances the overall concern is that the survey results will be unreliable and invalid, and will be used as an appearance of a democratic public consultation, and a whitewash of the harsh reality many social services' users and carers face. We are concerned that since you, Cllr Rajput, are responsible both for the cuts in adults social services and for a self-assessment of them, this Local Account cannot be genuine and objective.
Janet Leifer, on behalf of
CADDSS – Campaign Against Destruction of Disabled Support Services
Janet Leifer is a Barnet Resident. Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.