New figures have revealed the steadily-worsening state of adult social care, and how disabled people are increasingly reporting concerns about the quality and safety of services, seven weeks after the government last had a minister for social care in post.
As the Care Quality Commission (CQC) released its annual State of Care report, the government published its own annual statistical report on adult social care.
Both reports highlighted a slow, steady deterioration in the standard of social care services in England.
The CQC report revealed a small but significant increase in the proportion of adult social care services that are rated as inadequate, with a rise from 1.22 per cent in 2021 to 1.30 per cent in 2022, and a similar increase in those rated as requiring improvement, from 14.10 per cent to 15.36 per cent.
Although there was little detailed analysis of the quality of adult social care services in the CQC report – with the focus more on the need for long-term planning and investment, workforce issues, and hospital discharges – the figures suggested that campaigners such as Dr George Julian and Jess Thom were right to raise the alarm this summer about the apparent trend of increasing numbers of services being labelled inadequate or requiring improvement.
This week, Rishi Sunak delivered his first speech as prime minister, but made no commitment to addressing the social care funding crisis, or any mention of disabled people.
Instead, he promised to deliver on the NHS, education, crime, immigration, the environment, defence and the economy.
Both he and his predecessor Liz Truss had refused to answer questions about their disability policies during this summer’s battle for the leadership of the Conservative party – which led to Truss’s fleeting stint as prime minister – and also dodged questions from their own disabled party members.
Meanwhile, there has not been a minister for adult social care since Gillian Keegan was moved to another post by Truss on 7 September, seven weeks ago.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) refused to confirm that there had been no minister for social care since 7 September, but a DHSC spokesperson said in a statement: “There has been ministerial oversight of adult social care at all times including throughout recent government changes and it would be inaccurate to suggest otherwise.”
Last Thursday (20 October), DHSC published a report on the findings of its annual Adult Social Care Survey, again covering just England.
The report reveals a fall in the proportion of service-users who feel they have choice over the care and support services they receive, an increase in those who are unhappy with the support they receive, and an increase in those who feel less than adequately safe or do not feel safe at all.
The survey collates the opinions of service-users aged 18 and over who are receiving long-term care and support funded or managed by social services, and it heard this year from nearly 60,000 service-users, about a tenth of the total.
Because of the impact of the pandemic, the report compares scores for 2021-22 with those of 2019-20.
The proportion of service-users who felt they had enough choice over their care and support services dropped to 64 per cent in 2021-22 from 66.6 per cent in 2019-20.
The proportion of service-users who said they were quite, very or extremely dissatisfied with the care and support services they received rose from 4.5 per cent to 5.4 per cent between 2019-20 and 2021-22.
The proportion who said they did not always receive adequate or timely food and drink rose from 4.8 per cent to 5.5 per cent.
And the proportion feeling less than adequately safe or not at all safe rose from 5.5 per cent to 6.0 per cent over the two years.
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