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CQC: One in five adult social care services not up to scratch

More than a fifth of adult social care services are not up to standard as a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report today revealed that over 4,000 services in England are rated as Requires Improvement or Inadequate.

Though the majority of services were found to be providing Good or Outstanding care, the regulator has repeated warnings that there is considerable variation in care quality, as too many people were not receiving adequate care.  

It also comes the same week that the regulator announced it would be intervening in 12 local areas that were struggling with providing adequate social care.

The report released today – which is the first time that a focused analysis of social care has taken place on a national scale – did find that most services were caring, as 95% were rated as Outstanding or Good in this area.

But there are other areas that raise serious concern for inspectors. When it comes to safety, a quarter of providers were described as either Inadequate or Requires Improvement.

And surprisingly, the CQC also reported issues with services maintaining high standards, as 26% of services that were originally rated as Good have now been re-inspected and were given a lower grade.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC, said that inspectors had always based their reviews around criteria she called the ‘Mum Test’.

“When CQC began to transform its regulation of adult social care in England, I asked my staff to consider whether every service they were inspecting was good enough for their Mum or anyone they loved,” she explained. “The ‘Mum Test’ has guided our work ever since and made sure that we always focus on the people who are most important – people who use services, their families and carers.”

But Sutcliffe warned that there was still too much poor care, and that some providers were failing to improve as others were disappointingly deteriorating.

“It appears to be increasingly difficult for some providers to deliver the safe, high-quality and compassionate care people deserve and have every right to expect. With demand for social care expected to rise over the next two decades, this is more worrying than ever,” she said.

“While this report focuses on our assessment of quality and not on the wider context, with the deterioration we are seeing in services rated as Good together with the struggle to improve for those with Inadequate and Requires Improvement ratings, the danger of adult social care approaching its tipping point has not disappeared,” Sutcliffe continued. “If it tips, it will mean even more poor care, less choice and more unmet need for people.

“The announcement in the chancellor’s budget statement of £2bn additional funding over the next three years is welcome but even more welcome is the promise of a government consultation this year, which hopefully will lead to a long-term solution to support good quality, person-centred adult social care, both now and into the future.”

The chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said it was encouraging that the majority of care being provided in England was ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.

“But to maintain this level and improve performance where it is required, it is absolutely essential that councils have the funding they need to carry out their duties,” she warned.

“Even with the additional £2bn for social care announced in the Spring Budget, councils still face an annual funding gap of £2.3bn by 2020.”

On top of that, Cllr Seccombe said that councils needed the freedom and flexibility to invest resources in the areas they feel need it the most and where pressures are most severe.

“The sudden, last minute changes to how the additional £2bn funding must be spent shows this freedom is very much lacking,” she explained. “As the CQC has previously warned, adult social care is approaching a tipping point. It desperately needs a long-term sustainable funding solution, and this report is further evidence of the urgent need for the government to bring forward its consultation announced in the Queen’s Speech.”

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