There is none, and there should not be any excuse offered to justify the appalling care exposed in the recent Panorama programme aired on the 21st November 2016. The regulator, CQC, has responded immediately to the Panorama programme. Alongside this, membership groups like NCF offer their own strong focus on quality, encouraging the membership to embrace an agenda around self-assessment and continuous improvement. Yet, as this latest expose shows, this is not enough.
We know that the care sector is under huge pressure. Not a day goes by without recognition of the challenges of changing demographics, longer life expectancy, and growth in levels and complexity of health of individuals within the care system. This is complicated, complex and highly skilled work – and whilst some of this was evident in the Panorama programme – the predominant message was of a workforce that did not value or respect the residents of the home. However, we know from the recent CQC report that despite all these pressures, 71% of care within residential setting is good or outstanding. However, we also know that this is not an isolated case. In the last two weeks we have seen recent reports
by the Alzheimer’s Society highlighting poor home care for people with dementia and the annual report of the Social Care Ombudsman reflecting on a 25% increase in complaints about care. So against this backdrop, how do we stop the appalling care exposed within the programme ever happening again?
I want to call for a new partnership model for care, that makes it absolutely clear to local communities that poor care is not an inevitable outcome, and that good quality care is both achievable and is the ultimate aim of everyone involved in the system. I had the pleasure of speaking this week at the Carers Trust
conference, just as this news story was appearing. I raised the issue of partnership with the delegates, as I feel that it is fundamental to the journey forward. Care providers are enthusiastic advocates of partnership and association, but often approach focus on this amongst themselves to share best practice and lobby at a local level. Carers too work together to offer peer support and advice, and sometimes to highlight issues of poor care. However, I think we need a new approach – the formation of a true care partnership which can operate at a local level. A partnership where carers, people who use services and providers form a strategic alliance that is focussed on ensuring the most effective care of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. I hope that these strategies will include the development of models of accountability such as localised peer assessment, strengthening advice and information provision, carer and resident engagement in governance of services, and shared voices to raise issues around funding, development and safeguarding within the locality.
It is time for carers, people who use services and providers voices to call together for the kind of care that we would want for our loved ones, and for ourselves. It is essential that we turn the outrage brought forward by the recent Panorama programme into action – and ensure that a new care partnership is formed. Together we are stronger – we cannot do this alone.