Welcome to 2015!

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission.

I hope you had some fun over the festive season and if you were working, thank you.

Thoughts and reflections

As we pack away the Christmas tree our thoughts turn to what the New Year will bring. As ever, January heralds a surfeit of reflection, wishes and resolutions along with the fireworks. Here are some I enjoyed that you might find interesting and thought-provoking:

Social care common themes

Among the personal aspects of these and other reflections, I am sure you can spot the common themes:

  • Anticipating the implementation of the Care Act and turning good intentions into action.
  • Considering the potential impact of the General Election and what this will mean for adult social care.
  • Challenging the established way of doing things to improve services and ensure they are more appropriate and responsive to people’s individual needs.
  • Urging a better financial settlement for adult social care.

Meaningful action

I find little to argue with in these common themes. While the Care Act is very welcome legislation, it is only words on paper if it is not translated into meaningful action. I also understand why many want to push the boundaries of change even further. I have highlighted the tragedy of Connor Sparrowhawk’s death before, but a critical element of that tragedy is the reason for his admission to the Assessment and Treatment Unit in the first place — the lack of appropriate community based services. There is renewed energy from NHS England, local authorities and the Department of Health to address this but again translating good intentions into action has to be our fervent wish for 2015, not just in learning disabilities services but across the whole adult social care sector.

Profile and funding

The early skirmishes of the General Election campaign have already begun, with all parties competing to demonstrate their support for the NHS. Fair enough, but without recognition for the important role of social care to improve people’s lives as well as relieving pressure on the healthcare system, these vital services will continue to play second fiddle. That of course will impact on funding decisions. Money will still be tight but valuing social care needs to be demonstrated in hard cash — which then needs to be used wisely by commissioners and providers alike, particularly to ensure staff are well-supported and valued.

So my wishes for social care in 2015 are not original but what about closer to home? What do I think the New Year will bring for CQC and me?

CQC priorities

2015 will see CQC embed our tougher inspection regime as we rate more and more services and introduce special measures in April when our new regulations also come into force. As we do this we will identify and celebrate the good and outstanding services that do exist. But the old year closed with new reminders that not all care meets the standards we expect. It is vital that we continue to act on information about poor services and use our regulatory and inspection powers to protect people by encouraging services to improve or forcing their exit from the market. These are never easy situations as Merok Park showed but we will ensure that the safety and well-being of people using adult social care services remains our highest priority.

Other important work will be delivering our new market oversight role in April, publishing information on public use of covert surveillance and reviewing how we regulate supported living services. On the second, here’s another interesting blog from Zoe Harris looking at the use of audio recording. There will undoubtedly be other challenges to tackle but throughout will be two constant themes — first, sustaining our commitment to work in co-production with people who use services, their carers and families, providers, commissioners and national partners. Together we can accomplish so much more. Second, supporting and developing our staff so that we can be sure our regulation, registration and inspection of services are robust and reliable.

New Year’s Resolutions for me and all of us!

I’m not usually big on New Year resolutions but two things struck me over the holiday period. Professionally first, how much I enjoyed getting out and about last year to meet staff and visit services. I need to make sure I do more of that this year. And personally second, how much I‘d neglected family and friends in 2014. I need to do better than that in 2015.

The final word goes to Sarah Reed who started a third year of thoughts on New Year’s Day with this:


Originally published at www.cqc.org.uk.

Care Quality Commission

Written by

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

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