Regulator highlights social care stresses
23 November 2012
Community care doctors have called for society to debate how NHS resources are spent as a watchdog report highlights health and social care quality issues.
The CQC (Care Quality Commission) 2012 State of Care report, published today, examines all care sectors in England for the first time, and explores why some care services are failing to meet CQC standards.
It suggests that pressures on services are increasing the risks of poor or unsafe care for more vulnerable patients.
CQC inspectors warn that some organisations are failing to manage the impact of the challenges facing health and social care services effectively, and are delivering care that is task-based and not person-centred.
The State of Care report finds:
- Of the 350 inspections of NHS hospital services, one in 10 did not meet the standard on respecting and involving people in their care
- In social care, 15 per cent of the 2,502 inspections of nursing homes found a lack of respectful care
- Inadequate staffing levels in almost one in four of the 2,031 nursing homes inspected, 16 per cent of the 3,771 residential care homes, and 16 per cent of 250 hospital service inspections
- Some NHS hospitals had poor medicines management (21 per cent of inspections) and record keeping (22 per cent) — both indicators of where standards might slip as staff are stretched, according to the CQC.
The report concludes that in some areas staffing and skill-mix issues, combined with the need to care for people with increasingly complex conditions, are beginning to affect the quality of care being delivered, with a particular impact on people’s dignity and respect.
BMA committee on community care chair Helena McKeown said the report highlighted concerns many doctors have about health and social care.
She said: ‘The BMA has been saying for many years that there is a crisis in social care that, if unaddressed, will only get worse, particularly given the rising number of older people with dementia.
‘People who work in nursing homes are often poorly paid, which results in a difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff.
‘The funding of community services has not kept up with society’s desire for people to stay in their homes for as long as possible. People deserve to have an old age that is fulfilling and dignified, and at the moment I don’t feel a lot of them are getting that.’
‘There needs to be a debate in society on how we spend NHS resources.
‘Older people with complex illnesses, including dementia, need to be looked after. This doesn’t often involve high-tech expensive technologies but good hands-on care.’
CQC chief executive David Behan said the pressures on services ‘cannot be used as an excuse to deliver poor care’.
He added that the CQC would use its enforcement powers if necessary to tackle issues such as staff shortages or failure to involve people in decisions about their own care.