Strong leaders and well-trained staff is vital for provider improvement

Date: 12th Jun 2018

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a new industry report for care providers on driving improvement in adult social care. The publication, entitled ‘Driving improvement - Case studies from nine adult social care services’ contains the stories of adult social care services that have improved from a rating of Inadequate and/or enforcement action to achieving a rating of Good.

The report details the journey of nine adult social care services from across the country and how they have managed to take action and improve their inspection quality rating from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’. It provides a transparent insight from a wide range of people including clients (service users), their families and carers, staff, managers, directors, chief executives and other professionals.

Key findings in the report show that the recruitment and retention of capable, valued and supported staff has never been more critical to achieving the high-quality care everyone has a right to expect. The report also demonstrates that change and innovation are evident throughout the sector and states that care providers can get back on track by appointing strong leaders, accepting that problems exist and developing a well-trained workforce that is valued and well-supported.

One of the case studies in the report was on Agincare, a Surrey-based domiciliary care agency that provides personal care to around 85 people in their own homes. An inspection in January 2017 resulted in a rating of inadequate. A follow-up inspection in June 2017 rated the services as requires improvement, and in January 2018 CQC rated the service as good.

Agincare’s problems stemmed from an oversubscribed client-based, spreading resources thinly, poor call responding/logging and lack of accessible training for care workers. It was noted that some weekends up to 20 calls had been missed and there was no system in place to monitor and record missed calls with the only ‘alert’ being if a client called the office. 

Deputy Manager, Bev White was able to quickly implement new systems that could accurately record everything. She explains:

“If someone cancels a care call, I record it and the reasons. Where an issue is noted, an outcome an update is added and circulated immediately to other professionals. For example, when a care worker noted a client had swollen legs we called social services to determine if it was a safeguarding incident – everything is now documented. If you haven’t documented it, it hasn’t happened.”

Agincare’s earlier CQC report had noted that staff did not always receive the training they needed and few of them had regular supervisory meetings or appraisals. Bev has made sure that all staff are up to date with their training. 

From reading the case studies it is clear that a combination of great people and efficient systems can make a big difference. Technology can support many of the issues raised by improving communication and real-time information, providing robust audit trails and encouraging transparency. 

Commenting on the publication, Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: 

“As the independent quality regulator, we know the devastating impact inadequate adult social care has on people, their families and carers. That’s why it’s vital that the people in charge of providing care tackle the problems our inspections identify so improvement can be achieved. My hope is that people running or working in care services rated as inadequate or requires improvement can use these case studies as practical guidance to improve for the benefit of the people they support and care for.”

The full report can be accessed here.

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