In children and young people’s services this month a tranche of evaluation reports for the Department of Education's Social Care Innovation programme has been published. Of particular interest are the programmes aimed at improving outcomes for looked after children by safely reducing the demand for out-of-area placements. We are working with a number of clients to help them understand the impact that has been achieved, the extent of replicability for their local area, and the main lessons learned for roll-out.
Innovation was also a theme in this month’s adult social care digest. Two major areas dominate this month’s Pulse: homelessness and service quality. Homelessness and the challenges this poses to both individuals and families as well as to local government as it struggles to meet its obligations is the subject of several reports. Given the UK housing market it seems likely that this issue will continue to be a central matter of concern. It is also striking from reading the reports how quickly families can move from apparent security of accommodation to insecurity suggesting a degree of fragility that the state is failing to address. This month’s report from the Local Government Association certainly provides a timely resource, sharing innovations and learning about how a range of councils have attempted to tackle this issue in their area.
The quality of social care provision is an issue of growing national significance. This is partly due to the CQC’s approach to greater openness when services begin to fail, but also a result of local authorities’ efforts to ensure good quality of provision within their area and, in particular, the quality of provision which they are commissioning. This month’s reports make clear that expectations of what ‘good quality’ looks like are rising (appropriately) but some providers are struggling to respond to this. As a result, local authorities are introducing innovative new approaches to quality monitoring to capture the performance of complex social care provision. What is clear though is that delivering consistently good quality social care provision looks set to be the big challenge of future years.