The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has streamlined its process for assessing council adult social care services following significant concerns about the burden on authorities.
The regulator has issued fresh guidance on the local authority assurance process as it announced it had been given the green light by government to start assessing England’s 153 councils over the next two years.
It said it would be notifying the first group of authorities to be assessed this week.
The CQC assessed five authorities over the summer in pilot checks, resulting in four being given an indicative rating of good, the second top grade, and one of requires improvement.
Concerns over burden on councils
However, despite the relatively positive outcomes, the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have voiced significant concerns about the burden of the process on pilot councils.
During the first phase, the CQC gave pilot councils three weeks to submit documents under 48 categories, some of which required multiple submissions, found LGA research with the authorities.
Councils also had to provide the regulator with 50 cases for it to track retrospectively, and submit reflective logs for 10 of them, the LGA said.
CQC ‘has streamlined process’
The CQC said it had made changes to its guidance on the information that councils must supply to the regulator during the first stage of the assurance process.
“We’ve worked with the pilot local authorities, ADASS and LGA on streamlining the information required.
“We have explicitly set out which themes and quality statement the information return item relates to, reduced duplication, reduced ambiguity and added items where they would add value.”
The changes were welcomed by ADASS, whose policy and analysis director, Michael Chard said: “Updates made to the assurance process following the CQC evaluation of the pilots will hopefully reduce the time it takes for councils to prepare and participate in formal assessments.
“In particular, we hope simplifying the information return, which was extremely burdensome for the pilot councils, will lead to a more efficient process.”
‘Need for Care Act training for CQC assessors’
However, he added: “The evaluation [of the pilots] highlighted the need to provide CQC assessors with additional training on the Care Act and local government structures.
“This must be actioned urgently to ensure that the first tranche of councils subject to local authority assessment are judged on a level playing field with the last of the 153 councils in England with adult social care responsibilities.”