Call for CQC to give a more balanced picture of compliance
Caring Times Letters, January 2014
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has made the solid progress achieved by nursing homes in meeting essential standards of care feel like a setback.
My colleagues and I are vastly disappointed at the negative focus of the regulator’s public statements in its latest State of Healthcare and Adult Social Care report, published in mid-November, which risk demotivating tens of thousands of hard-working nursing home staff who strive round the clock to meet the needs of some of the country’s most vulnerable older people.
Given that overall levels of compliance with care standards have risen year on year, it is difficult to comprehend why the CQC should pepper its press statement with negative after negative.
Were the CQC responsible for monitoring the performance of Premier League football clubs, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had only negative things to say about Southampton even if, in only that team’s second season in the ‘top flight’ of the sport, they went on to win the title.
Data from the full CQC report shows that, according to inspection outcomes, nursing homes have made improvements between 2011/12 and 2012/13 across five key areas of activity – a 6% improvement in safeguarding and safety; a 9% improvement in care and welfare; a 3% improvement in respect and dignity; a 6% improvement in the suitability of staffing; and a 4% improvement in monitoring quality.
All of these findings are signs that nursing homes are moving in the right direction. Nationally, compliance with standards in these five areas is recorded at between 82% and 88%. While there is clearly still room for further improvement, I would have expected some acknowledgement from the CQC that measurable progress had been achieved, rather than the doom and gloom story painted in its press release.
All this has been achieved against the backdrop of a 2% real terms decrease in expenditure by councils on social care for adults and a reduction over the past five years in the proportion of adult social care spending on services for older people – a point buried away in the bowels of the main report but totally ignored in the CQC press release. It is dispiriting for the regulator to focus disproportionately on the bad news rather than the good.
We’d all like to see the CQC raising its game on this point. At present it seems as though the regulator thinks finding fault with care providers wherever and whenever possible is a greater sign of its usefulness to its political masters than helping providers to achieve and maintain improvements in their services.”
– Frank Ursell, chief executive Registered Nursing Home Association