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

Thank you for coming back to read my second column as Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care — I have been looking forward to talking to you about some of what has happened at CQC this month.

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One of the hot topics on my radar is oral health care, an important issue that isn’t consistently given the attention it needs, as evidenced in our new publication released on 24 June Smiling Matters. This report looks at the state of oral health care in care homes across England, with a focus on how the NICE guidance (NG48) has been implemented since its release in July 2016. The focus is on oral health in care homes, but these recommendations can also translate into the care people receive within their own home or supported living settings.

From October 2018 to January 2019 our dental and adult social care inspectors worked together to visit 100 care homes of which inspections were already scheduled to take place. We spoke to people using services, their families, social care staff and senior staff members. What they found was that awareness of the guidance was low, with only 28% of care home managers being aware of it and having read it in full. The NICE guideline does not currently form part of the contractual and regulatory frameworks the care home sector work towards, which could be one of the reasons that awareness is so low, but we need to work together across health and social care to ensure this awareness improves going forward.

In comparison to twenty or thirty years ago people are keeping their own teeth much longer. This means that they need regular check-ups and daily care, particularly those who might not have the capacity to look after their oral health themselves. Poor oral care can lead to things such as malnutrition, severe pain and even pneumonia, as well as having an impact on people’s self-esteem and quality of life, therefore we must make sure that the oral health care for people we support is given the consistent focus it needs.

I encourage you to read the report in full, looking at the key findings and recommendations especially, as there are actions you might be able to carry out in your service immediately. There are also key recommendations for training organisations and the dental industry, which have been well received with the British Dental Association calling for a “dental revolution” to make the required changes needed.

This month also saw the publication of our Medicines in Health and Social Care settings report. If you have not already had the chance to take a look at this, I hope that you will be able to soon. Our Medicines Optimisation team produced this report with the aim of forming clear recommendations for providers across health and social care. The report has specific actions for social care providers that should help ensure that medicines are managed safely, as well as examples of best practice. I hope that you will find this useful and please share your feedback on this report with us.

As I talked about in my last column, I am passionate about joint working and coproducing the work of CQC. This month I had the pleasure of chairing an adult social care coproduction meeting and a meeting with adult social care trade associations. Both groups were incredibly engaging and willing to work alongside us at CQC to deliver our shared agenda about ensuring people get good quality care. From now on coproduction meetings will be co-chaired by myself and a colleague from outside of CQC, agendas will be developed in collaboration and topics will be jointly presented to the group.

I hope that you will come back next month as I continue to navigate my new role and share my experiences with you.

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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