Clause 27 - Review of care and support plan or of support plan

Part of Care Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:00 pm ar 16 Ionawr 2014.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Llafur, South Shields 4:00, 16 Ionawr 2014

These amendments would perform a similar function to amendment 113, but would apply to the review of care plans rather than assessment. In my experience, it is the review stage at which delays are most common and local authorities fall the most short of their duties. The amendments would require local authorities to conduct regular reviews of service users’ care and support plans and establish a timetable for that through regulations.

In my constituency, care plans are supposed to be reviewed every 12 months, but that does not always happen. Just a few days ago, I spoke to a constituent, Mr Bennetts. He is registered blind and his sight loss is increasing, but his most recent review was more than three years ago. As with assessments, I understand that time pressures on care workers mean that routine assessments are often put on the back burner in the face of more urgent cases. However, that does not change the fact that, without regular assessment, checks show that many people’s conditions are allowed to deteriorate. Stronger terms need to be put on local authorities to ensure that such checks are carried out.

Care plan reviews are particularly important for people with progressive or fluctuating conditions. For them, even a few weeks can make a huge difference. A person with a progressive condition whose needs are not assessed for many years may find themselves with support that is completely inadequate for their developing condition.

Regular reviews also provide a built-in check on the care system, which can improve safeguarding. Regular contact with service users enables inadequate care to be  identified quickly. I was involved with a care home in my constituency where, due to a lack of scrutiny by a number of agencies, criminal negligence went on unchecked. That had heartbreaking consequences. I do not ever want to experience that again and nor do I want anyone else to have to.

Like amendment 113, the amendments deliberately do not specify a time scale, as that is best left open to consultation. However, even the current target used in most areas of an annual review is too long, given the speed with which conditions can change and the vulnerability of some clients. Adult social care workers are fed up that their profession never receives the same rigour and attention as children’s care, in which review meetings can take place as regularly as monthly if a local authority has concerns about a case. Local authorities strictly keep to children’s social care time scales because of the emphasis placed on child protection and the public scrutiny. There is no such urgency for adults.

I am sure that the Minister agrees that an 85-year-old with dementia deserves the same protection as a vulnerable child and that, therefore, the priorities need to be rebalanced. I fancy, however, that the Minister’s response will be the same as for my previous amendment. When responding, I would like him to think seriously and carefully about the message his Government is sending to service users and local authorities by not prescribing any time scales in legislation.