Agenda item


Including an update on Adult Social Care Reforms



The Director of Adult Social Care gave an update to Members on work being undertaken across the Adult Social Care department.


The Director of Adult Social Care informed Members that since the last meeting most of the activity within the department had focussed on preparation for winter. Learning from last year had been taken and built upon what had worked, including regular reviews on progress in order that any unused funds could be redirected in a timely way. This year, there had been a focus specifically on work to prevent people from being admitted to hospital, rather than just focussing on hospital discharge. This had required a change of thinking across the whole system, aided by the good cross agency working.


The required return to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on 14th October 2022 was submitted with detailed returns from providers completed from a large section of the provider market, which aided the completion of the draft Market Sustainability Plan. Whilst not delivering any major surprises, as the department knew the market well, it did reinforce the challenges created by having a large private market accessed by 50% of those seeking and paying for care themselves.


The government’s announcement last week that some of the Adult Social Care Reforms had been delayed had been met with a mixed reception across the world of Adult Social Care. At a local level, officers were still seeking to make sense of what this meant for Bromley as “the devil was always in the detail”. It was intended that a lot of the work in progress would continue as this would enable the department to provide a better response to the community, and they also aimed to continue to develop a digital offer to support better systems.


The planned re-introduction of an assurance process with Care Quality Commission (CQC) would continue, as would the departments preparation for this – work would be undertaken to ensuring policies and practice were aligned, good use was made of financial and performance data and that the impact of the work could be evidenced. The department continued to work with the voluntary sector, as well as providers and those that used the services, to develop practice.


The Director of Adult Social Care informed Members that a number of newly qualified social workers had recently been welcomed to Bromley – they had been provided with an extensive induction programme, developed by the Principal Social Worker. Their introduction would enable the department to, once again, reduce the number of agency staff in post, a number of whom had held posts pending these appointments. Two graduates had also been welcomed – they would initially be working within the commissioning team, and receive the benefit of some time from a corporate graduate to assist preparation for assurance. Planning was well under way to ensure that comprehensive cover over the Christmas period, in order to ensure services could continue to be delivered at one of the busiest times of the year.


The Director of Adult Social Care thanked Members for their support and constructive challenge during the year and wished them a happy festive season and a happy and healthy new year.


With regards to the delay to the Adult Social Care reforms, a Member questioned what impact this was likely to have on the cost of residential care and what opportunities could be considered to mitigate this. The Director of Adult Social Care highlighted that the delays related to the introduction of the care cap, the ability for people to access care at the Council’s rate and changes to financial assessment levels. There had been no statement in relation to the impact of the fair cost of care work and this remained a risk. Work had been undertaken to ask providers what they believed a fairer cost of care to be, and there was an expectation that this would be worked towards by Councils over the next few years. The growth initially built into the budget was a combination of these things – the work to now be undertaken related to understanding the expectation at a national level. It was anticipated that some contribution towards the fair cost of care would be received – proposals would be developed at a local level and shared with the Portfolio Holder for Adult Care and Health once clear guidance was provided. It was noted that the pressure to reduce the gap between what the Council and private clients paid would be more significant in Bromley as a higher proportion of people funded their own care. The fair cost of care would apply to both residential and home care providers.


A Member noted that the update relating to staffing and recruitment was positive and enquired if previous concerns regarding retention of staff had eased. The Director of Adult Social Care advised that retention of staff within the directorate had been less of an issue compared to Children’s Social Care. There had been less movement and the risks anticipated were not currently been seen.


RESOLVED that the update be noted.