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National Audit Office highlights a lack of evidence for reablement services

17 March 2014 - 5:28pm

A National Audit Office (NAO) report on adult social care in England calls for service providers to establish best practice in reablement for particular groups, such as adults with learning disabilities or dementia.


Reablement services give adults short, intensive bursts of care to regain lost skills. Download the full report below

The watchdog found gaps in data and a lack of evidence about what reablement strategies work to help patients regain skills, confidence and independence after an injury or illness.

This makes it difficult to plan care services or assess the impact of policy and spending decisions.

Reablement services give adults short, intensive bursts of care to regain lost skills and build confidence and independence after an injury or illness. Most local authorities provide reablement and evaluations have shown it reduces the need for ongoing care.

National data show that the number of older people discharged from hospital into reablement services increased six per cent in 2012. More than 80 per cent of these were living at home three months after discharge.

Rachel Newton, the CSP’s public affairs and policy officer for England, said: ‘It’s proven that reablement services reduce the need for ongoing care, but it’s vital to show decision makers how physiotherapy contributes to this.

‘We need to improve our evidence base to show that physiotherapy works by delivering savings across both NHS and social care and by making a significant difference to people’s lives.’

Lack of data

The NAO also found that some local authorities commission services from private and voluntary sector providers without incentivising them to rehabilitate or increase user independence.

In addition, councils have little information on the numbers, needs, spending and outcomes of self-funders in their areas.

As a result there is a lack of data about how people spend direct payments and the quality of care bought, which makes it difficult for councils to manage their local care markets.

The report also highlights a 7.5 per cent cut in spending on social care since 2010, despite evidence that social care can reduce emergency admissions and the time people spend in hospital.

‘Adult social care, including care of an ageing population, is one of the big issues we face at present,’ said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO. ‘There are no easy answers, but we need to think clearly and in a joined-up way about the predictable and growing challenges in years to come.’

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