Are social and personal care services actually responsive enough to meet the needs of people who use them – or are they designed for the benefit of the agency delivering them?
The buzzword now is personalisation – customising services to deliver higher quality care. And, in theory, this means that people can lead more independent lives.
Social care for people with disabilities must comply with at least two pieces of legislation.
Firstly, it must be delivered without discrimination – the key obligation of the Disability Discrimination Act – and it must comply with the Human Rights Act.
But what it ultimately comes down to rethinking ideas of what "independent living" means.
Independent living has long meant a care package of social workers, home helps and so on coming at times that suited the provider, restricted to what it would provide.
But disability campaigners say independent living should mean having the same choices in life as everyone else because society values them as equal citizens.
This principle is informing a lot of current thinking – and it could lead to social services in which people have the power to decide the care package they want to maximise their independence.