Speaking to the National Pensions Convention in Blackpool, Paul Snell, CSCI's Chief Inspector, paid tribute to the valuable role the NPC fulfils in raising the profile of older people and the issues that matter to the older generation. He told delegates, most of whom were aged over 70, that while the issues and concerns of older people are becoming increasingly recognised, a wider debate is needed about what people should expect from good quality care services.
Mr Snell said: "While more and more of us are living longer and our health and social care needs are growing, we need an intelligent debate now to plan for that future. People today rightly expect to enjoy a better standard of life than previous generations - they take choice, independence and control of their daily lives for granted. The same must be true for people who rely on social care services.
He continued: "At its best social care services can transform people's lives. We don't just want care services that help people survive. Good quality social care should enable people to pursue their interests, their ambitions and their dreams. It isn't just about staying alive, it's about feeling alive."
Mr Snell reminded delegates that while local councils are spending more money on social care, they are also tightening their local rules about who qualifies for state provided and funded social care. As a result, more and more older and disabled people, who don't qualify for council funded care, will have one of three choices: to fund their own care; to rely on family or friends; or simply have no option but to do without.
He said: "Councils must have a responsibility to ensure that there are enough care services available for local people who do not qualify for publicly funded or provided services - either because they do not meet the council's criteria, or because they have sufficient money to buy their own care. For those purchasing their own care, there needs to be support made available. Support might be needed to provide information to help people make decisions about which services would best suit them, what is best value for their money, or whether services are of good enough quality to meet their needs."
Dr. Mary Parkinson OBE, Health advisor to the National Pensioners Convention, said: "CSCI is highlighting issues that are very important to our members. Mr Snell came across as someone who is deeply concerned that those receiving care should get the best possible quality support and choice. We agree that older people and their needs should be at the heart of services and would welcome a wider debate on improving care."
In his speech Paul Snell also told the delegates that CSCI aims to work with other organisations to tackle abuse and neglect wherever it happens. He explained that the Commission inspects local services to ensure providers meet the Government's minimum standards, and identifies in its reports where improvement is needed. Where services are not safeguarding and promoting people's rights and welfare, CSCI will require services to improve - or take legal action is taken against them.
He drew attention to the recent announcement of CSCI creating seven regional enforcement teams whose job it will be to step in where services are not up to scratch and take legal action to secure the necessary improvements or to close them down.