Beyond A Two-Tier Social Care System
More than four in five adult social care services are currently either rated Good or Outstanding by the CQC.
While the fact that the vast majority of care services continues to excel amidst a funding and recruitment crisis is a cause of celebration, there remains a sizeable proportion (almost one in five) of failing services.
Like Waiting for Godot, social care providers may find that significant help from Government in fixing the two-tier care system may never arrive so they will have to look to themselves to address the structural quality issues within the sector.
The nation’s 4% of Outstanding providers have a clear role to play in helping raise standards at failing services.
The social care sector is notoriously bad at sharing best practice but there are signs that a shift in attitudes is starting to emerge.
For example, the Outstanding Society, which has until now been very much an exclusive club where the cream of the sector talk amongst themselves, has signalled it wants to share its learnings more widely.
In a welcome development, talks are currently under way with the CQC about sharing best practice with failing care home operators.
The Outstanding Society would do well to take a leaf out of the book of Warwickshire-based, Outstanding care home provider WCS Care, which invites providers and other stakeholders to its Castle Brook Innovation Hub to learn about best practice and new technology innovations such as acoustic monitoring, digital care planning and circadian lighting.
Further broader initiatives designed to share best practice and raise standards are sprouting up such as the recently launched Economic and Social Research Council (SASCI) project led by the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre. The five-year project, which brings together a range of partners, including Care England LSE, Care England, Islington Council, King’s College London, Kingston University London, Local Government Association (Care and Health Improvement Programme), Social Finance, Thurrock Council, Turning Point and the University of York, is designed to support the social care sector to innovate.
The SASCI project aims to build evidence about how to support the adult social care sector to start-up, implement and spread affordable innovations that work well for everyone.
Technology providers too, for their part, are also increasingly taking up the challenge to help raise care standards everywhere. The Care Software Providers Association (CASPA), an independent association representing the views and interests of social care software providers, was recently founded with the principles of promoting advances in the digital information flow across social care to provide openness and transparency of care being provided and creating standards, such as those for electronic information transfer, where such standards do not currently exist.
The road will be long to the day when all social care providers are fit for purpose and we can say goodbye to the well-entrenched two-tier system, but we will get there a little more quickly through a little more sharing.
By Andrew Mason, Social Care Commentator