Bed blocking and a radical shake-up of how Angus Council is run have impacted on the care of the area’s old people, according to a new inspection report.
The joint Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland document has said there are areas of good performance in the delivery of services for the elderly, but two thirds of the benchmark indicators were categorised as only “adequate”.
An 85-page inspection report, released on Monday following a three-month scrutiny of local services last year, highlighted home care capacity as an issue and also described policy development and service improvement plans as “weak”, but said there were signs of progress after changes brought in as part of a major council management restructure.
Local authority and health partners involved in Angus service delivery said steps had already been taken to address the bed blocking issue and other recommendations from an inspection which took place in the early stages of a major transition period for the delivery of services.
An MSP said that while there are positives from the inspection, it is vital the “significant issue” of bed blocking is addressed as a matter of urgency.
The inspection took place between April and June last year and involved interviews with 180 council staff as well as 70 service users and their carers across the district. Across Angus, social work services and most community health services are delivered by Angus Council and NHS Tayside and the purpose of the joint inspection was to examine how well that partnership delivered good personal outcomes for old people and their carers.
A special meeting of the council’s social work and health committee will consider the report at a Forfar meeting today where improvement recommendations will be detailed to elected members.
Across the nine quality indicators, three were found to be good, five were adequate where strengths just outweigh weaknesses and one, policy development and plans to support improvement in service, was graded weak.
The report states: “The Angus partnership performed well compared to other partnership areas on preventing avoidable admissions of older people to hospital. Its performance on ensuring the timely discharge from hospital of older people who used services who were clinically fit for discharge varied in the previous months.
“Overall, there was a sound approach to providing care and support to service users at an early stage.
“This helped to reduce the need for admission to hospital, supported discharge from hospital as well as supporting service users to remain at home.”
But it adds: “While home care services delivered good outcomes for service users, we found there were issues with home care capacity. This had an adverse impact on some service users and their carers.”
The report adds: “We found that strategic planning in Angus was being reinvigorated.”
Care Inspectorate chief executive Annette Bruton said: “Where there is room for improvement we do not hesitate to report on this and expect partnerships to take the necessary action so that everyone in Scotland can access services which meet their needs and respect their rights.”
Robbie Pearson, director of scrutiny and assurance for Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “This report clearly outlines that there are areas of good practice at the Angus partnership.
“Inspection is about improvement and we are confident that the six recommendations for improvement set out in this report will bring about important benefits to people living in Angus.”
The areas identified for improvement are now being addressed by the shadow Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board for Angus and council leader Iain Gaul said: “The inspection was carried out early last year when we were in the very early stages of our preparations for integration of health and social care services.
“We have made considerable and significant progress since then which puts us in an excellent position to deliver all of the requirements for integration that will allow us to improve services for older people in the county.”
North east MSP Alex Johnstone said: “There are a lot of positives in this Care Inspectorate report, but clearly bed blocking continues to be a significant issue that needs to be addressed.”