CSCI report: Councils reporting successful telecare delivery (UK)

Each year the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) surveys English councils which are obliged to report data on a wide variety of topics. The questions are agreed in consultation with the Department of Health. The CSCI’s 2008 report on 2007’s data has just been published. The headline, when it comes to numbers of new people receiving telecare during the years of the Preventative Technology Grant (PTG) is that the PTG ‘target’ of 160,000 new beneficiaries of telecare over the two years has, at 300,000, been exceeded by nearly 100%.

Whilst this is a hopeful and encouraging sign that telecare is making progress in the UK, these figures do not mean, of course, that councils have over-delivered on the PTG. They are self-reported and open to interpretation since new recipients of ‘traditional’ community alarm services were allowed to be counted, as were people in the council’s area receiving telecare services provided by other organisations (not in receipt of the PTG). Even the CSCI cautiously frames the good news with “Councils are reporting success in a number of key areas”.

In fact, the CSCI figures indicate that only 44% of the most recent provision was by councils alone with a further 26% jointly between the council and other agencies.

It is perhaps worth remembering the explanation in the previous year’s report:

The White Paper set a target for the number of older people supported by the provision of telecare equipment to increase by 160,000 by 2007-08 from the level at 31 March 2006. The average increase in 2006-07 of 998 (150,000 total) new users per council was above plan (130,000). Just over one-third (36%) of the more recent provision was by councils alone, with an increased proportion in the current year being provided jointly or solely by other agencies.

It could be that the rise in council-funded provision from 36% in 2006 to 44% in 2007 reflects the PTG kicking in. If that is so, the PTG is accounting for 8% – OK, let’s be generous – 16% of the figures. So, 16% – OK, let’s be even more generous and go for 20% of 300,000 – equals 60,000.

Criticise me for being cynical, but I’ve been on both sides of governmental data collection process and, allowing for an element of optimistic or enthusiastic counting on the councils’ part, and allowing for the easy threshold for inclusion in the data, and that some of this number growth could have been expected anyway without the PTG funding, and from what people have been telling me for the past three years has been happening on the ground, I suspect that the contribution of the PTG to these numbers is about a fifth: i.e. less than half of what it should have been.

Access both years’ reports from this CSCI web page.