Devon's social care services 'performing well'

DEVON County Council s adult social care services are continuing to perform well, according to this year s performance assessment by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Among the commendations is acknowledgement that there are now three times more people

DEVON County Council's adult social care services are continuing to perform well, according to this year's performance assessment by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Among the commendations is acknowledgement that there are now three times more people in Devon receiving social care through direct payments, which are giving people more choice and control about the care they are receiving.

Support for older people, helping them remain independent for longer has also remained a council priority this year. The CQC says that older people in Devon are increasingly able to access initiatives which have been developed to promote wellbeing and focus on prevention of ill-health.

The Commission notes the increasing availability of community services such as Community Mentoring and Footcare projects. Both services are helping people stay independent, and both are available to people without care assessments.

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Their report also says that more people have been prevented from going into hospital, with prompt support at home being provided through Rapid Response teams. And that there is evidence that these teams' support for people at home is effective.

Carers also have more services to choose from, says the CQC. The Council has worked hard this year to identify carers, and there are now new services to improve their support.

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The CQC report highlights a council-led initiative this year to establish advice and support workers within four GP practices.

Also reported are the higher numbers of people with learning disabilities who are now being supported into paid jobs. CQC says that the number of services to support people in jobs are increasing, and there are more opportunities to development employment skills.

More generally, the Commission says that people are being swiftly signposted to support or provided with services through the Council's My Devon customer service centre and Care Direct, which are the gateways into social care in Devon.

However there is more the Council can be doing, says the Commission.

Devon is not as far ahead as CQC would like with the development of extra care housing. While it exists in some parts of the county - a large extra care housing scheme opened in Okehampton this year - CQC say that not enough people living in Devon are currently able to access such accommodation.

It also says that the Council needs to be developing ways of giving people personal budgets to decide how to spend the resources allocated to them.

And while CQC concludes that the Council's budget for adult social care is sound and focused on providing good value for money services, it criticises the fact that the Council's residential costs in its own homes are so high.

The Council's Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services, Cllr Stuart Barker, described CQC's assessment as fair.

"Good progress has been made across Adult and Community Services to provide a wider range of support for older people, in ways that people want to be supported. Their comments about carers services are especially welcome, reflecting the focus that the Council has had this year on carers' support.

"The new Conservative administration at County Hall recognised the problems that CQC now highlight as soon as we took control in June, and started work immediately to address them.

"Our own residential homes were costing too much to run, but through far more careful management, we've already begun to reduce those costs.

"More extra care housing is needed in Devon, and this is an essential element of work for which we will be seeking new partners for in the new year.

"And the provision of personal budgets, that will give people more choice and control over the services they receive, and when, where and how they receive it, is in hand and is starting to become more available in Devon.

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