Comment

05.12.18

Caroline Dinenage: Quality matters

Source: NHE Nov/Dec 2018

Care minister Caroline Dinenage MP urges health and care organisations to achieve closer collaboration to improve the quality of care and support.

Our population is growing, ageing and diversifying which, naturally, is something to be celebrated. However, it’s also putting pressure on our health and care services. Our upcoming green paper will look at long-term sustainable solutions for the social care system, but in the short term it’s vital that adult social care partners continue to ensure that all care is of the highest standard.

It is now over a year since representatives of people who use adult social care services and national bodies came together to launch a shared commitment to deliver high-quality adult social care that is personalised, caring and safe. Known as Quality Matters, this joint commitment is one that we all have a part to play in.

The vast majority of services provide excellent care and support, and the CQC rates over 82% of services as ʻgoodʼ or ʻoutstanding.ʼ For most people who use social care services, the support they receive can be transformational, allowing them to stay independent and healthy for longer. Similarly, for the 1.47 million people working in the sector, it offers amazing opportunities for rewarding careers that can make a real difference to people’s lives.

In July, I visited Bridgeside Lodge Care Centre in Islington, rated ʻoutstandingʼ by the CQC.  I met staff, families and residents and saw how they are using innovative technologies, such as care plan apps on smartphones, to deliver exceptional standards of care for residents. Close to my constituency, Sunnycroft Residential Care Home, also rated ʻoutstanding,ʼ has been praised by the CQC for its culture of person-centred care and support. They make a real effort to involve families and friends of residents – making them feel welcome, including them at mealtimes, and providing emotional support when needed. 

While we should celebrate the many wonderful examples of outstanding care, we know standards in some settings are below what we want. We need to do more to improve the quality of care and to address the variation that we see around the country.

On 27 September I joined the national partners involved in Quality Matters to reflect on progress over the last year and think about how we can go further to ensure that quality care and support becomes the norm for all.

Over the past year we have worked together to create practical resources, such as complaints statements for care providers, commissioners and people who use services, their families and carers. Encouraging and acting on feedback is essential for learning and improving, and these statements help people know what to expect if they want to give feedback about care.

The digital platform, ‘Unlocking capacity: smarter together,’ was also launched at the NHS Expo, showing how collaborative working between the NHS and adult social care in local areas can improve outcomes for people and make better use of resources.

Earlier this year, NICE launched a quality improvement resource which brings together its quality standards and the key lines of enquiry that the CQC uses in its inspections. This practical resource will help care commissioners and providers agree ways to improve quality of care.

These are just some of the areas where Quality Matters has made a difference. So many care providers are doing an incredible job, and those who have turned around their rating from ʻinadequateʼ to ʻgoodʼ should be especially proud.

In June, the CQC published its ‘Driving Improvement’ report, with case studies of nine adult social care services that have achieved a significant improvement on their rating, shining a light on the secrets to success – from inspiring leadership to a well-trained and valued workforce.

The latter is particularly vital to good-quality care, and the department recently launched a new workforce engagement platform, ‘TalkHealthandCare,’ designed to reach out to those on the frontline of care and health. I encourage everyone working in adult social care to join in that conversation.

The upcoming green paper on adult social care will provide a blueprint for a social care system that delivers affordable, high-quality, person-centred care. As we look towards its publication this autumn, the work begun through Quality Matters must be central to how we go further to improve quality for people who use services, families, carers, and everyone working in adult social care.

 

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