THE head of adult social services in Somerset has admitted that the county remains “far behind the rest of the country” in its rollout of personalised care.

A report into adult social care in Somerset paints a mixed picture of the county council’s performance across different areas.

Progress has been made on reducing delays with transferring people from hospital into care.

But Somerset’s form on rolling out personalised care budgets remains “poor” and behind both the national average and those of its neighbouring counties.

With a personal budget, an assessment of need is undertaken by the council, an indicative budget to provide the care the individual needs is set out, and then a support plan is drawn up for how and where the money will be spent.

Councillors were presented with the latest figures at a meeting of the adults and health scrutiny panel in Taunton on Wednesday (May 9).

The proportion of people using social care in Somerset who received “self-directed support” (which includes personal budgets) has risen over the last two years, from less than 40 per cent in 2015/16 to around 60 per cent in March 2018.

However, this is below both the national average of just under 90 per cent and below three of Somerset’s immediate neighbours, with Devon (c. 82 per cent), Gloucestershire (c. 92 per cent) and Dorset (c. 95 per cent) all having higher proportion of people receiving personal budgets.

Stephen Chandler, director of adult social services, admitted that Somerset was “so far behind the rest of the country that it’s of great concern”, and claimed that people didn’t understand the opportunities associated with personal budgets as opposed to traditional means of delivering care.

He said: “Personalisation is about giving the individual choice and control over how their support is arranged.”

The amount of people in Somerset receiving direct payments – where money is paid directly from social services to the individual for care – is above both Devon’s level and the national average of just under 30 per cent.

However, it is behind Gloucestershire, where well over one-third of people in social care receive the payments.

Somerset also scores poorly in the permanent admission of adults aged 18 to 64 into residential and nursing homes.

In March 2018, 18 adults per 100,000 population were admitted – higher than the national average of around 13 and a rise on the two previous years.

The proportion of over-65s being admitted to residential or nursing homes on a permanent basis is also higher than the UK average, with nearly 700 per 100,000 being admitted in March against a national average of just over 600.

In other areas, however, the social care picture is somewhat rosier.

Somerset does have a higher-than-average proportion of adults with learning disabilities being in some form of paid employment, with around seven per cent being in work against just under six per cent across the UK.

The county also has a higher than average proportion of disabled people who either live in their own home or with their family, with the amount hovering at just over 80 per cent.

There have been improvements made in reducing the amount of ‘bedblocking’ in Somerset.

‘Bedblocking’ is measured as a Delayed Transfer of Care (DTOC) or ‘lost bed days’ – the total number of days patients in Somerset spent in an acute hospital bed rather than being moved into the community for care.

According to Jon Padfield, the council’s performance lead officer for adults and health, the county hit its target in December for the number of days lost because of adult social care – but added that there had been a slight rise up to February.

Mr Chandler said that this rise could be attributed to the winter flu and a general rise in A&E admissions.

He said that health services in Somerset had “weathered that storm”, that the four-day Easter weekend had been “really smooth” and that the April performance had seen an improvement.

A further update on the performance of adult social care is expected later in the year.