Sector 'offers better social care'

Mathew Little

The voluntary sector has been told by independent assessors that its management of care homes is better than that of both local councils and private sector organisations.

A report by the Commission for Social Care Inspection concluded that "voluntary-owned services, both residential and domiciliary care, significantly outperform those run by local councils and those in the private sector".

"Our critics would argue that we claim to bring added value but that we can't prove it," said Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo. "But this provides clear, firm evidence that we provide better value for money.

"It's astonishing that we can achieve these results on a worse funding and contracting regime than either the private or public sectors."

Acevo is to cite the report in a letter to Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, which will argue for longer contracts and full-cost recovery.

The commission examined how registered social care services complied with national minimum standards.

It found that voluntary sector care homes for older people met 80 per cent of standards, compared with 73 per cent for council homes and 71 per cent for private residential homes.

Voluntary sector children's homes complied with 78 per cent of the standards, ahead of 75 per cent for commercial homes and 72 per cent for council-run homes.

Voluntary sector domiciliary care agencies attained 75 per cent of the standards, compared with 63 per cent for councils and 65 per cent for businesses.

Valerie Barrow, chief executive of the Association of Charity Officers, which represents benevolent societies providing registered care services, said the voluntary sector provided services based on communities of interest or place.

"It's not about providing a service or about how many people are going to buy the service," she said. "It's an affinity bond."

AND ALSO

Sue Ryder Care is to complain about the 15 per cent increase in the fee for inspection and registration that has been imposed by the Department of Health on all care homes.

The charity has been charged £11,500 a year following a 20 per cent hike a year ago. The charge is being made despite Sue Ryder's claim that it subsidises a £7m annual shortfall in statutory funding.

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