The Commission for Social Care Inspection has warned that adult care providers will be insufficiently challenged under the government’s proposed new regulatory regime, particularly to improve service users’ quality of life.
It made the claim in its response to a consultation on a proposed single regulatory system for health and adult social care, which closed last month.
The new system will be fully implemented in April 2010, providing registration requirements for all providers, enforced by the new Care Quality Commission, which replaces CSCI, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission next April.
The Department of Health said the 18 proposed requirements, including ensuring care meets people’s needs, safeguarding, responding to complaints and supporting independence, embodied “essential levels of quality and safety” for health and adult care services, rather than best practice.
However, CSCI said this appeared to be a “backward step” from the current national minimum standards in social care – which it said were themselves were set “too low” and “overly focused on processes”.
It said there was “at best, a minimal focus on driving up quality of care”, while the requirements failed to focus on improving service users’ quality of life, which CSCI said should be a “prerequisite for [providers] entering the market”.
CSCI said: “The requirements say very little in terms of supporting people to access social activities, seek employment opportunities or to play a part in their local communities.”
Our health, our care, our say
It also pointed out that the requirements were not based on the seven outcomes of the 2006 Our health, our care, our say white paper, which were originally supposed to form the basis of a joint health and social care performance management regime.
These are health and emotional well-being, personal dignity and respect, choice and control, quality of life, freedom from discrimination, making a positive contribution and economic well-being, and form the basis for CSCI’s assessment of councils.
This point was echoed by the General Social Care Council in its response to the consultation.
The GSCC also said it was “concerned” at the lack of reference to qualifications saying there needed to be a greater focus on driving up the quality of the adult care workforce.
Expert guide to the national minimum standards