The Care Quality Commission (CQC) plans to start assessing the quality and equality of end-of-life care provided by adult social care services.
The move follows a review that found some groups of people get poorer quality care at the end of their lives because health and care services do not understand or fully consider their needs.
These groups include ethnic minorities, the homeless, the frail, prisoners and people with mental health conditions, dementia or learning disabilities.
The CQC’s A Different Ending review found that a lack of understanding of the specific needs of these and other groups of people is preventing good care for the dying.
People with dementia, for example, “need the opportunity to talk about their end-of-life care wishes and preferences before the last year of life as they will progressively lose the capacity to make decisions”.
Quality and equality assessments
In response to the findings, the CQC said it now intends to start assessing the quality and equality of end-of-life care provided by services, including adult social care, that are not currently given ratings for their work in this area.
This, the review said, means CQC inspections will “include an assessment of the quality of end of life care and whether it is meeting the needs of everyone, including people from equality groups and people whose circumstances may make them vulnerable, and report on this consistently”.
Details of how adult social care’s end-of-life work will be assessed will be published by the CQC later this year.
“A person’s diagnosis, age, ethnic background or social circumstances should not affect the quality of care they receive at any point, but certainly not at the end of their lives,” said Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of general practice at the CQC.
“What is important is that everyone receives care based on their individual needs, delivered with compassion and sensitivity by staff with the right skills, and that there is regular and effective communication between staff and the dying person and their family.
“We found that where commissioners and services are taking an equality-led approach, responding to individuals’ needs, people receive better care.”
The CQC’s review also urged employers and commissioners to ensure that social care staff have training on how to provide personalised and compassionate end-of-life care.