The recently published final report from the Health & Social Care Information Centre, entitled “Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey, England 2010-2011” actually paints a fairly good picture of social care and is perhaps worth highlighting to counter the general negative reporting we usually see.
The survey, which had 61,115 respondents, found that 62% of those who responded were extremely or very satisfied with the care and support services they received, 28% were fairly satisfied, 7% neither satisfied or dissatisfied and just 3% said they were dissatisfied.
Given that we are trying to achieve a person centred culture it seems odd that the constant criticism of the care system does not seem to be wholly reflected in the views of those who use care services.
The survey also asked about individual’s quality of life. In this just over a quarter of the people who responded (26%) stated that their quality of life was so good it could not be bettered, 31% responded as it being good and 33% as alright with only 7% responding their quality of life was bad and 3% so bad that it could not be worse.
We should also be singing the praises of social care workers. The survey asked “How happy are you with the way the staff help you?” A staggering 69.2% responded “I am very happy with the way the staff help me, it’s really good”.
The overall picture of social care service delivery in England is a positive one.
Yet more work needs to be done. The survey does not, unfortunately, fully identify where any differences in care delivery may occur. The responses are broadly uniform across the country and in terms of demographics the level of dissatisfaction with care services appears age related with younger people more likely to be dissatisfied and, I suspect, more detailed research would be needed to discover if this is because services are that much poorer for younger adults or whether it is purely because of age.
We also need to be able to pick out what is the best practice that can be disseminated. What is being provided to the 62% who are extremely or very satisfied with their care package that can be translated into the care packages of the remaining 38% of care service users.
We need to be able to identify what it is that makes care users happy with the way care workers help and support them, so we can disseminate this good practice throughout the social care workforce.
Perhaps more importantly we need to raise the profile of this survey to show that the social care delivered in England is good, that the people who count – i.e. those who use the care and support services – are broadly happy with the service being received.
Yes we do need a fundamental review of social care in the UK but we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water and we should take the time to recognise that the bulk of care and support provision is good.