Safety was cited as the greatest concern in an extensive report across the sector, with a third of adult care services requiring improvement in this area. Residential nursing homes have been the worst offenders for providing substandard care, a consistent trend from previous years, with one in ten rated as inadequate. In contrast, the domiciliary sector was highlighted as one of the best providers of adult social care.
Of those offering outstanding care, the CQC highlighted the importance of person-centric care and an individual approach, as commented on in previous Prestige blogs. This is crucial in guaranteeing quality care and is something all care providers should endeavour to provide.
A lack of council funding has played a significant role in reducing access to care, and it is suggested that some will receive consistently poorer care as a result: local authority budgets have fallen by 37% in real terms over the last 5 years, and 400,000 fewer people now receive care as a result. Although discrepancies between standards of care cannot be wholly explained by cuts, any further reduction of budgets will certainly add to the burden on care providers. At the same times, patients’ needs are becoming more complex, with multiple long-term needs now relatively common. Care providers therefore need highly capable staff and resources in order to meet this demand.
A shortage of adequately skilled and trained staff also contributes to ‘inadequate’ ratings, a problem which will only worsen as the sector continues to face challenges recruiting. Quality staff at the frontline of care provision makes all the difference and we welcome news earlier this month that the UK has lifted restrictions on recruiting nurses from abroad, in a bid to tackle the shortage. On top of recruitment, care providers must guarantee high levels of training and satisfaction to ensure retention, another significant challenge for the sector.
The report clearly highlights some severe gaps in quality care, which will face further strain unless more is done to ensure adequate funding, inexorably linked to recruitment and retention. It is crucial the government does not divert much needed funds away, which would only serve to risk care quality and stretch care workers and nurses ever thinner.