Anyone who relies on social care to support their day-to-day lives and wellbeing has a right to receive a really great service.
It has to be good enough for my mum, your mum or anyone’s loved one. For the past year and a half the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been monitoring, inspecting and rating every service so that people can be clear whether we think the care they receive deserves that description.
Making sure this is a reality is what we expect from the people who are in charge of running services and those who work in them. We know real and sustained improvement begins with providers who focus on the needs of the individuals they support and is delivered by staff who feel valued and are well-trained.
As the regulator, we have an important job to do in setting clear expectations, providing transparent information about our judgements and tackling poor care when we find it.
”When we say that a service ‘requires improvement’ a perfectly reasonable question is ‘how do I make that happen?’”
But what is really important is that our work makes a tangible difference to the quality of care and people’s experiences of services. When we say that a service ‘requires improvement’ – and we’re rating over 30% of services at that level at the moment – a perfectly reasonable question is “how do I make that happen?”
Alongside improvement resources offered by organisations like the Social Care Institute for Excellence and Skills for Care to help providers achieve the standards we expect to see, CQC has an important role in encouraging that to happen by setting clear action recommendations, celebrating those services that are getting it right and finding ways to share ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ practice so that other providers can learn from the best.
”I am glad our inspections show that great care is out there”
I am glad our inspections show that great care is out there with over 60% of services rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ so far.
You can see where these and others are on a regularly updated map on our website. But there is still too much variation and themes that we reported in our annual State of Care report last October – including weak leadership, shortages of nursing staff and providers failing to resource and invest in training – are not going away.
Neither is the challenging financial environment, which will intensify with the introduction of the new national living wage from April 1 alongside other pressures. But we cannot let these financial pressures lead to poorer services for people.
I am determined that CQC lives up to its promise of being on the side of people who use services. To do that, we will continue to provide reliable and transparent information about the quality of care we find.
“We cannot let these financial pressures lead to poorer services for people”
But there is no way we can do this by ourselves – we need others to work with us, share our view of quality and help to spread good practice and new approaches. I am very pleased that this new online resource will help to do that and I hope that everyone across the care sector will contribute ideas and information as well as using the material available to improve care.
Working together we can make sure all our services meet the Mum Test. People deserve nothing less.
Andrea Sutcliffe is the chief inspector of Adult Social Care