Monthly column for providers and professionals working in adult social care from Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care.

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Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care

Farewell to CQC

I couldn’t write my column this month without mentioning my big news — that I will be saying a sad farewell to CQC at the end of the year. In 2019 I will be joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council in January as their new Chief Executive and Registrar.

While I am excited about starting this new position, saying goodbye to CQC is going to be tough. I’m not going to go into my farewells in this post — you have that to look forward to in December — but I will say that I am immensely proud of what we have achieved in the past 5 years at CQC and in adult social care. Although there are still huge challenges and improvements needed in the sector I do not think we should underestimate the progress that has been made in improving adult social care for those who need it the most. I won’t be far away at the NMC (there are, of course, thousands of nurses working in adult social care), and I will of course always have the CQC values close to my heart!

Working collaboratively

I have of course been reflecting on the last five years since I found out I will be leaving CQC and a recent issue raised at our monthly meeting with adult social care trade associations made me think about the importance of the relationships we have formed between CQC and external stakeholders, including providers, trade associations and many more. I have talked before about the importance of trade association meetings, coproduction and meetings with everyone else who help us shape our work, but the issue that was raised recently was about providers not feeling comfortable or happy with how they challenged the outcome of their inspection.

‘We value the feedback and sometimes a quick conversation will help to resolve problems or misunderstandings quickly.’

The relationship between a provider and their inspector, or inspection manager, is an important relationship which should be open and honest, with both prepared for an honest and respectful dialogue. This is not to underestimate the concerns that providers may have about an inspection rating — I know that there is a worry that speaking up about something that you do not agree with can be tough — but I want to encourage providers to pick up the phone and talk to their inspector, their manager, or their relationship manager if they have a concern. We value the feedback and sometimes a quick conversation will help to resolve problems or misunderstandings quickly.

State of Care 2017/18

But as important as the news about my departure is, the really big event in October for CQC was the publication of our State of Care 2017/18 report on 11 October which can be read in full on our website. For the adult social care sector the report highlights that although there is room for improvement, our ratings show that quality of care is being maintained overall, although this is only true for those who can access it. We are all aware of the fragility of the sector, and the report does not try to gloss over this but it also emphasises the good. In a challenging and unstable market it is incredibly important not to overlook the examples of good and outstanding care across England. Of the 396 services we re-inspected last year that were originally rated inadequate, 89% had improved their rating. That is very positive but we do not see the same progress when we rate services as requires improvement with 42% failing to improve and 7% deteriorating further.

‘In a challenging and unstable market it is incredibly important not to overlook the examples of good and outstanding care across England.’

Much more positively, there are now nearly 250 more services rated outstanding in adult social care than we reported in State of Care in the previous year. In the face of all the challenges we know about, that is something to celebrate and I hope progress will continue over the coming year.

The next two months before my departure from CQC are going to be incredibly busy, but I hope to see as many of you as possible before I go — and if not, you know where I will be!

Until next time…

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

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