What to provide?

I have just spent a galvanising time at the Research in Practice for Adults Leaders’ Forum. The theme was making resources go further through prevention and the timing, coinciding with the Queen’s speech, made for a thought-provoking 24 hours. My main reflection is on the need for clarity about what adult social care councils must provide, what is worth providing additionally, and what falls outside their role. This is increasingly essential as councils make more difficult decisions about what care and support they can afford (see the latest ADASS survey).
It will be liberating to have a single statute, and a new Care Bill is a real opportunity to clarify what we mean by statutory social care and what it should achieve. However, the bill doesn’t itself give us that clarity. The general duty to promote well-being doesn’t tell us how much well-being is enough. And the requirement to take steps to prevent or delay the development of needs, or to reduce these, mean that a case could be made for councils getting involved in providing services at any point with the aim of prevention.
Adult social care leaders have the difficult job of advising elected members on what must be provided, to achieve what level of outcomes, and what should be done to reduce need and make savings. They need to debate (across borders) what they mean by well-being, what outcomes they are aiming for in terms of meeting and reducing needs, and what the council’s remit is in achieving these outcomes. Otherwise, there will not be a consistent language or framework to discuss and explain decisions about what provision is left in the future.