Responsibility for the provision of personal social services rests with the social services authorities. Their services are directed towards elderly people, children and young people, families, people with mental illness or with physical or mental handicap, young offenders and other disadvantaged people and their careers. The major services include residential care, day care, domiciliary services and various forms of social work. Close co-operation is maintained between local authority social services departments and health authorities.
In Scotland local authorities also undertake duties similar to those of the separate probation and prison after – care service in England and Wales.
Much of the care given to elderly and disabled people is provided in the community itself, by their families, self-help groups and through voluntary agencies. The statutory sector offers the skilled care needed in particular services. The importance of the contribution made by the voluntary organizations is recognized especially when economies are being made in public expenditure and the demand on the statutory services is heavy.
The demand for personal social services is expected to rise over the next few years, owing to the increasing number of elderly people and the changing pattern of care for people suffering from mental illness or mental handicap and the chronically sick. The Government’s policy, embodied in a “ Care in the Community “ programme, is the transfer from hospital to care in the community of patients who do not specifically need hospital care. It believes that groups such as the elderly, the disabled, and mentally ill or handicapped people can lead more normal lives in the community, given appropriate support and facilities.
Following the recommendations of an independent review of the use of public funds to support community care policy published in 1988, the Government has proposed new financial arrangements which seek to ensure that priority is given to supporting people in their own homes wherever possible. It believes that the new arrangements would provide more appropriate services closer to individual needs and wishes, and better value for money from public spending than do existing arrangements.
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