The bland leaving the bland?


Posted on July 9th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

The headline for an interview which Sir David Behan, the Care Quality Commission’s departing chief executive, gave to The Guardian last week was ‘May must be bold to fix social care’. Well, there’s an original thought! With his expert knowledge and the freedom of impending retirement, Sir David could have weighed into the Government for delaying the publication of the Green Paper on funding, spelled out how it and its predecessor have dramatically cut care’s resource base over the last decade, or – if one must be politically even-handed – noted how successive governments over many years claimed that social care reform was vital but did nothing about it. In short he could have been bold.

Instead, we got the vagueness of ‘unmet need is increasing’, social care’s problems are ‘difficult and challenging’, older people should be ‘treated with dignity’, and a few more similarly tired phrases.

Lack of boldness is one thing, but the even greater sin of blandness is, alas, typical of CQC’s recent output. Last month’s report on how services reacted to being rated inadequate, for example, listed among its headline conclusions such truisms as ‘The value of a good leader cannot be underestimated’, ‘Leadership and culture go hand in hand’, and ’it is simply not possible to provide good care if the care staff do not understand the needs of the person being cared for’. In the report’s Foreword, chief inspector Andrea Sutcliffe reached for a another cliché to opine that ‘what needs to be done isn’t rocket science’, so why did it take months of so-called ‘research’ to produce this so-called ‘improvement resource’?

I have known David Behan for more than 20 years and respect his many fine qualities. As president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and then director general for social care at the Department of Health, he showed courage and imagination. His leadership of CQC has been marked by some significant successes, and been rewarded with a knighthood. If he has lost his voice through years of treading carefully and mixing with people mouthing platitudes, I hope he will regain it in retirement.

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One response to “The bland leaving the bland?”

  1. Robin Jackson says:

    I note that David Behan, the current head of the Care Quality Commission who is shortly to retire, is urging the Prime Minister to demonstrate the kind of political leadership shown by Clement Attlee in order to fix social care. But what kind of courage and leadership has David Behan exhibited during his six-year tenure as CQC head? Not very much one might argue.

    One can look at the findings and recommendations of a succession of Parliamentary Select Committees (e.g., Health Select Committee, 2013; Public Accounts Committee, 2015), all of which have delivered scathing judgements on the performance of the CQC.

    One can also look at the continuing rise in the number of cases of abuse and maltreatment in different social care settings. And finally, one can look at the damning report of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the state of health and social care in the UK when it visited in 2015.

    But it could be argued that David Behan has had an impossible task. Dame Denise Platt – former Chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection warned that the Care Quality Commission would never prove an effective social care regulator as it would struggle to balance its health and social care responsibilities. Inevitably, in her opinion, the focus of attention would be on health care with the result that failings in adult social care would attract little attention. And so, it has proved.


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