Thursday, 18 April 2013

Some interesting ideas from the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care services in England, with the exception of children’s social care, which is inspected by Ofsted.

The history of the CQC includes its missing some hospitals and care homes that were failing very badly, even disastrously. So it is by no means an icon of perfection.

Now under new management it has laid out its new strategy to address some of the problems it has experienced in the past. And some parts of this seem very good.   

I particularly liked the following aspiration:

To “… ask the following five questions when inspecting services - are they safe, effective, caring, well led and responsive to people's needs?”

I thought that puts it very neatly and could be applied very well to children’s services. And I also liked plans to involve services users as experts in inspections. That seemed part of an overall intention to listen better to people’s views and experiences of care. Listening to people who use services is never easy and can easily descend into tokenism. Organisations need clear plans about how they will undertake this sort of work and ensure its quality.

I would like to see Ofsted laying out its stall in a similar manner. It could do a lot worse than to adopt the CQC’s five questions as they stand.

I’ve always thought that inspection is a blunt tool, which is not a very direct path to quality. But at least the CQC appears to be doing some interesting thinking about how to move forward. Ofsted should take note.