Staff relationships with service users will be at the heart of a revised quality rating system for providers run by the Care Quality Commission.
The CQC suspended awarding quality ratings in June and is due to have a new system in place next May after a consultation.
“We need to concentrate on the things that are important to people: how engaged are they, are they treated with respect, do they have plenty of choice and are they treated as an individual,” said CQC chair Jo Williams.
She said quality services were defined by the day-to-day relationships between staff and clients.
All social care providers were required to register with the CQC by 1 October and show they met basic standards of care.
“The challenge for us is how to differentiate between the different levels of service above that minimum standard,” said Williams.
The CQC intends to have proposals for a new quality rating system out for consultation before the end of the year.
Although Williams saw a clear role for the CQC in regulating service quality in health and social care, she did not envisage it overseeing proposed GP commissioning arrangements for health and social care.
The government’s health White Paper proposes to abolish primary care trusts and give GPs responsibility for commissioning health and some social care services.
However, critics of the plan, including shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, have said the system will be less accountable. Some patients’ groups have also expressed concern that GPs lack the understanding of some long-term conditions and mental illness to effectively commission services.
Williams said the CQC did not plan to include GPs’ commissioning responsibilities in their registration process due to begin in 2012.
“There comes a point where we would have to think what we can do with the resources we have and we know there are huge challenges ahead for us,” she said. “I don’t want to see us stretched to the point where we can’t add value to the system.”
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