Adult Social Care is, arguably, the County’s biggest problem. Let’s get it straight, everything we see suggests we are doing the right things, but It accounts for over 40% of our total spend, an amount that is set to increase because we have a growing county where people are living longer (which is a good thing).
I do believe that Adult Social care and Children’s Service are probably the lest contentious areas of the council going forwards, they are the areas where we have the most consensus around decision-making. But that could change.
There is some huge change needed in Adult Social Care, primarily doing more to allow people to live longer in their own homes rather than relying on hospitals and care homes. To make this happen there is going to need to be a real change in thinking, and a significant blurring of the lines between the NHS and Adult Social Care, with GPs potentially taking a much more pivotal role. The committee system makes this complex – who takes responsibility for making it happen? The Health Committee? The Adults Committee? Or maybe we should just leave it to the Health and Wellbeing Board? With a Cabinet system, there was one body that pulled all this together(arguably this didn’t include the H&WB board, but there was always aCabinet Member with Executive authority sat on it). You could argue that where situations were this complex, it should be the role of the overarching General Purposes Committee – but it has been decided that the GPC will not have a decision-making role in Cambridgeshire.
One of the things I am most proud of in Cambridgeshire is the Community Navigator programme.
It is something I had a huge role in making happen in the County after hearing about the success of other schemes in the country. But, I am convinced this would, at best, have taken an age to get through the committee system. The point about schemes like this is that they are hard to find research evidence that shows their likely success, the evidence comes from getting out and seeing what is going on elsewhere in the country, and looking at case studies. As a cabinet member, I could drive forward this issue having seen it first hand – 17 committee members will not have been able to do that – and the lack of research evidence would have been an issue for some could have, at best, seriously slowed down the introduction of our community Navigators scheme.
Finally, I want to say this. Adult Social Care is an extremely complex area of business – it has intricate links with outside bodies, complex internal structures, because it is multifaceted, and it has a challenging financial position. Whoever takes on the Chairman’s role must have the ability to get underneath this complexity and must be capable of real depth of thought. There is a danger that the Chairman will be appointed simply as part of a numbers game. That would be a mistake – especially when you consider the serious safeguarding implications of getting it wrong.