The bland leaving the bland?
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.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.