Why care home improvements have to and can be made
Adult social care recently hit the media headlines for all the right reasons when we released the results of our care home re-inspection analysis. Out of 372 homes originally rated as Inadequate, 73% had improved either to Good or Requires Improvement, benefiting more than 12,000 people across the country with better and safer care.
The story was largely positively received but as I made clear whilst doing the interview rounds, neither CQC nor providers can be complacent about the results. There is a lot more to do.
Day in, day out, my inspection teams see examples of people experiencing great care as a result of fantastic managers and staff who are supported by strong leadership. Together, they promote a culture of listening and acting on the voices of people, and their families, using services – and above all – do not cut corners when it comes to the quality of care.
It is a sad reality that these sorts of stories do not often make the headlines with the media understandably choosing to report on cases of poor care. In turn, I know this casts a long shadow across the rest of the sector as well as undermining the confidence and trust of people using services, their families and carers in the quality of services they experience.
As well as holding providers to account and taking action to stop poor care from continuing, an important part of CQC’s role is to celebrate good services and inspire services to improve – so, you can imagine how pleased I was to be able to welcome the improvements we have seen.
Real change does not happen overnight – the improved ratings are a testament to the time, effort and determination of providers, their managers and their staff – and this is good news for the people who use their services who have every right to expect care we would be happy for a loved one to receive.
Making a difference
An improvement story is important and significant for two main reasons. The first is that it shows how all the hard work being undertaken by our adult social care inspectors really does support the delivery of our core purpose: “to make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and to encourage care services to improve.” Secondly, it shows that we can measure the impact of our work and that as a result of regulatory intervention services can, and do, improve.
There is ample evidence from the case studies of homes that moved from Inadequate to Good that specific issues were recognised, responded to well and addressed following a CQC inspection. Good quality care that meets the Mum Test is what we all strive for. Most importantly, and as our latest analysis demonstrates, it can be done.
No room for complacency
While services that have moved to Requires Improvement are heading in the right direction, I am clear that this is still not good enough and providers cannot afford to be complacent. Evidence of consistent practice and sustainability is what we are looking for, to ensure people always get the good care they deserve.
To restore public confidence in our vital sector, when services fail, it is important that providers take what we say seriously, take action to put things right and make sure that the improvement is sustained. If services cannot or will not improve for the benefit of people they are paid to support, then quite frankly there is no place for them in the care sector. As the regulator, we will be vigilant and will not hesitate to use our powers, where necessary, to put a stop to poor standards of care being provided.
Make it the norm I understand the stresses and strains facing staff and providers delivering adult social care services caused by the squeeze on funding, rising costs and increasing demands, but we cannot compromise on good quality care for people using these services – we need great care to become the norm. This is a shared endeavour – improvement can be achieved and regulation plays a key part in that but it is not the only influence. Sustained quality demands a commitment from everyone – staff, providers, commissioners and funders, regulators – all working together to make adult social care the best it can be.