Councils should continue to deliver adult social care services under government reforms, a new report has argued.
The report by care specialists Newton, The Future of Adult Social Care, which was commissioned by the County Councils Network, argues local authorities, rather than the NHS or central government, are best placed to deliver social care reform.
The report outlines new ways of working and improved practices for local authorities, care providers and the NHS in what Newton terms an “optimised local delivery model” to help transform services for many of the 1.4m people who approach councils each year for local authority arranged-care in England.
This can be achieved through a mix of interrelated improvements, including better long-term commissioning of residential and home care; greater collaboration between councils, the NHS and care providers; investment in reablement services; maximising the use of the voluntary and community sector; and embracing digital transformation, the report argues.
However, the report says reforms can only be delivered through a long-term funding model with services remaining under local democratic control.
It argues for parity of esteem with the NHS, with social care getting a more prominent voice in local decision-making, and more campaigning to raise the positive profile of the sector with the public.
Cllr David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said: “This year, we could finally see the government’s long-awaited proposals for reforming care services in England. This must set out a long-term funding solution but also be clear over who is best placed to deliver services for the most vulnerable in our communities.
“The evidence presented in this report is compelling: only councils, who know their populations and their providers, have the means to deliver improved social care services to keep people independent for longer. Social care is best delivered as a local service and local authorities have the connection to their communities to truly transform local care for the better.
“This report recognises that if government finally delivers sustainable funding for councils, we can work with health partners and care providers to deliver improved commissioning and financial benefits which could be reinvested in local services.
“In exchange for more funding and local decision making over services, a new co-designed performance framework could also help provide reassurance to government that these improvements are being met.”