The parallel universes of social care

Posted on October 30th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 2 comments

By guest blogger JOHN BURTON

The Care Quality Commission’s adult social care ‘productivity’ dipped in August and for the umpteenth time the 90% target of annual inspections was missed by quite a margin. Why? Well, the teams were ‘under considerable pressure’ according to the chief inspector because of holidays, sickness, vacancies, retirement and ‘enforcement actions’.

In addition, of those care homes that were inspected and received a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rating, 23% – or nearly one in four – were discovered to have deteriorated. On re-inspection, 20% ‘required improvement’ and 3% (that’s still a lot of homes) were ‘inadequate’. So, more special measures and enforcement action to do. Next year, ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ homes will be inspected even less often. The ‘timeliness’ of report writing continues to lag behind the generous ten-week target, but as usual, this is interpreted as ‘improving’.

As Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector for adult social care, delivered these statistics and excuses to the October board meeting, Peter Wyman, chair of the board, said, “So, a lot of good news then.” He wasn’t being sarcastic.

Reading the breathless self-congratulation and boundless optimism that emanates from the plethora of awards ceremonies, conferences, photo opportunities, provider organisations, professional puffery, and the bright and breezy twittersphere, one would get the impression that nothing ever went wrong in care homes, and that if it did, the regulator would soon see that it was put right. After all, in this parallel universe, the CQC claims that it ‘ensures’ the quality of care, and, just in case you had forgotten, to ensure is to make certain.

Today, I get another email from a distressed relative whose mother had been neglected and maltreated in a ‘good’ care home. Her mother was evicted because she complained to safeguarding and the CQC. She worried that she was no longer able to keep an eye on the other residents who were also at risk of the same treatment. On re-inspection the home was again rated ‘good’, and soon afterwards my correspondent discovered from the local paper that another resident had been abused.

So, a lot of good news then.

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2 responses to “The parallel universes of social care”

  1. Not to contradict your point, but perhaps worth noting: I was at the launch of the latest CQC ‘State of Care’ report a couple of weeks ago, and both Andrea Sutcliffe and David Behan were at pains to point out that it wasn’t all good news – services were under huge and continuing strain, and they were seeing what they described as ‘warning signs’ – services that had previously been inspected as ‘good’ and were being found on a subsequent inspection to be ‘requiring improvement’. Others may have rose-tinted spectacles but I don’t think they do.

    • John Burton says:

      Yes, Debbie, I note that too, but I interpret it differently. Are we meant to understand that the deterioration of “good” homes is mostly to do with social care being starved of resources? Something that local authorities and providers – and of course, regulators – can all agree with. Are we therefore to take our focus off the deep flaws in the whole regulatory process and organisation which fail repeated to identify poor care, or, for that matter, to recognise good care. Our problem in social care is that there is no one in the social care Establishment who will confront the CQC’s failures. Like the Oscars and other award ceremonies, social care awards and self-congratulation with the great and good all patting each other on the back and pretending that they love the regulator, are a fiction hiding the reality of living and working in social care.

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