A new framework is aiming to assure NHS staff about standards in care homes, and bring the two sectors closer together.
The tool – being developed as a collaboration between care homes, commissioners and accountancy and advisory firm Baker Tilley – enables homes to self-assess against a variety of criteria.
“We’re creating a tool which marries performance, patient and family experience, the 6Cs. It allows care homes to benchmark, not compare, on performance,” explained Lucy Botting, chief nurse at Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group.
“As a commissioner, we contract with a home on behalf of the patient rather than with the home itself. So it’s really difficult when looking at contractual levers for quality improvement. That means partnership is really important – working together to improve.”
“The tool has already opened up conversations, and given me an opportunity to work with the CCG”
It was a theme echoed by Angela Dempsey, governing body nurse at Enfield Clinical Commissioing Group and an associate director at Baker Tilley. “We want to create something which creates grown up conversations between commissioners and providers on how we can improve care,” she said.
Elizabeth Hancock, business manager at Fulford Nursing Home in North Yorkshire, was enthusiastic about its ability to do just that.
“We’d like to be working in a joined up approach,” said Ms Hancock, who has been involved in the development and piloting of the tool. “The CCGs and local authorities want care homes to improve, and key to me is them supporting us to do it. I want to be talking to CCGs and local authorities about quality of care, and this tool will enable me to do it.
“The tool has already opened up conversations, and given me an opportunity to work with the CCG,” she said. “From next week, we’re working with the CCG to offer reablement services and that’s all come about through conversations with the CCG.”
“It allows care homes to benchmark, not compare, on performance”
Ms Hancock emphasised the importance of bringing care home nurses into the wider nursing community.
“If you are thinking of using the tool, I ask you think about what commissioning was like 10 years ago. Care has changed and is changing. My nurses are doing proper, high end nursing. This isn’t a job you’re having because your children are little and you want to earn a bit of money.
“My nurses want to feel like they are part of the team – they came into care to care, and more often than not they feel on the edges, small,” she said. “The people that are in our beds now were in hospital, the people that were in my beds are in residential, the people that were in residential are at home.
“So the bar’s been raised, but my nursing staff haven’t been part of the nursing community and so they need to be upskilled and just by me telling them that we were working with the CCG, you could see them grow,” she added.