Community care re-emerged as a prominent feature of public policy in the mid-1980s. The Social Services Committee Report was instrumental in placing community care on the policy agenda. Subsequent reports by the Audit Commission and Sir Roy Griffiths ensured that it remained high on the policy agenda.

The concept’s attractiveness to politicians across political divides, policy-makers and practitioners seems to owe much to its convenient vagueness and ability to encompass a range of meaning. As Parker notes, ‘community care can he and has been used to refer both to policy goals or ideals and to a variety of practical measures the provision of welfare and personal social services for example designed to furthe!. Commnity care is not, however, a ic-ent policy development. For example, the 1908 Royal Oh :mission on the Care of the Feeble Minded 5? advocated guidance and supervision in the community, where appropriate.

Despite the growth in large segregated institutions during the 2 Waciar I U Ahmad and Karl Atkin first half of the century the emphasis on community care was gradually strengthened by successive policy documentation and legislation.

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The real impetus for the present policies of care in the community began in the late 1950s.

Since then successive governments have sought to shift the care of older and disabled people away from institutions to care in their own homes. Although originally concerned with relocating people from long-stay hospitals to ‘the community’, the policy has since been widened to include the provision of health and social care to people in their own homes. The assumptions underpinning community care remain reasonably unchallenged: that living outside large-scale segregated institutions is in the best interests of disabled people and is in accordance with their own wishes and those of their family. None the less, as this book demonstrates, community care, both as a concept and as policy and practice, is characterized by complexities. In particular the current restructuring of welfare provision raises the possibility of a fundamental transformation in the management and deliver), of community care in the UK.

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