The care regulator could be set to investigate concerns about the number of disabled adults and older people who are not receiving the care services they need.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) – which regulates health and adult social care in England – said the review of “unmet need” in social care would examine the impact of funding cuts on eligibility for services.
In a report last December the commission found three out of 148 councils were restricting eligibility for care services to only those with “critical” needs, while a further 103 had set their threshold at “substantial”, the second-highest of the four categories.
The CQC said then that it was “concerned” that some councils could raise eligibility criteria further as public spending was squeezed in future years.
The review is just one of 13 possible reviews and studies the commission is considering undertaking in 2010-11, all of which are in areas where there is “evidence of poor quality, or risk within the system”.
The others include: the health and social care needs of offenders, domiciliary care, services for people with dementia, and services for those with long-term neurological conditions
But the commission said it would not have the resources to begin work on all 13, and is asking for views on which topics were most urgent.
The list was released as part of a public consultation launched this week on the CQC’s new plans for assessing the quality of care provided by councils, NHS trusts and adult social care providers.
In its consultation report, the CQC says it will “focus much more” on the views of service-users and “hold those who provide and commission services to account for the quality and value for money of those services”.
The CQC said that existing systems for gathering the views of service-users “need significant development”.
The new plans would see “a move away” from an overall score for councils and primary care trusts as commissioners of care, and instead provide separate scores in specific areas.
But it will continue to use quality ratings for providers of social care because they “act as a useful guide to assist people who use services when making decisions about choosing their care”.
Cynthia Bower, the CQC’s chief executive, said: “We will listen carefully to what people who use services tell us about their care, and will hold those in charge accountable when that care falls below par.”
The consultation closes on 27 April. For more information, visit www.cqc.org.uk/getinvolved/consultations.cfm
3 February 2010