By Debbie le Quesne

Radical reforms proposal in Staffordshire

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Raising the quality of care is the heartbeat of all good care providers, so yesterday’s news from Staffordshire County Council that it intends to radically overhaul adult social care should be good news.

The trail-blazing measures are detailed in the A Revolution in Care Quality a Staffordshire Green Paper from the council – which in April formed the UK’s largest integration of local authority and NHS care services.

Tougher monitoring of care providers, naming and shaming poor performers and raising wages for care staff are part of a package of measures put forward by one council to raise quality.

In an article published on the council’s website www.staffordshire.gov.uk Matthew Ellis, the council’s Cabinet Member for Adults Wellbeing says the green paper, which is being issued for both regional and national debate, promises to shape the quality of care for the next generation.

County Councillor Ellis is quoted: “There has been a lot of debate nationally about quality of care, but the time for talking is over.

“It is more than time we took action to demonstrate as a country that we truly value the elderly and more vulnerable members of our community and that we value too the people who we entrust with their care.

“Families need to make informed choices and it is disgraceful, for example, that it is easier to find out about complaints regarding your local take-away than it is on a company caring for a loved one,

“We also need to move away from the ‘menial’ pay mindset and promote caring as a well paid career choice if we are serious about improving the whole experience of care in the UK – and this is what this green paper seeks to deliver.”

Recommendations in the green paper on quality include:

  • Naming organisations – both care providers which have received upheld complaints or where the council has suspended contracts
  • Making caring a career choice – backed up with qualifications, greater training and crucially a decent wage for employees
  • Rewards for providers of excellence and fostering a “zero tolerance” policy for those who fail to improve
  • Providing a better “care experience” for adults of all ages, both in residential care and in their own homes
  • “Mystery shopper” style spot checks as part of monitoring controls

I should be, at this point, ecstatically happy. All these proposals are good, but I have a reality check that troubles me – the depressed international economy, which impacts on the UK and not least, as a care industry we are under financial restraints which even the Government have not clearly outlined how to meet.

Many of the proposals carry a price tag and the council will decide how much it is willing to invest in the two-year initiative following a consultation, which closes on 16 September.

Councillor Ellis adds: “We already deliver some of the highest standards of adult care in the UK, but we think it is time to get even tougher with the minority of providers who fail to deliver the quality of care which families not only expect, but have an absolute right to.

“This green paper is much more than simply providing expected standards, it’s about delivering a raft of measures that will change the whole care culture and asks what quality means, not just to us, but more importantly to the people we care for?

“As part of the largest provider of integrated care in the UK, we have a unique opportunity to set out ground-breaking reforms which have the potential to be mirrored across the UK.”

The website www.communitycare.co.uk reports the council intends to “work with the independent sector towards an accepted transparent working wage” for staff, though it is unclear whether this would be enforced through contracts or whether providers would voluntarily agree to pay it.

It’s heartening that the council wants to reward providers financially for “excellent” quality in their services, but there will need to be a clear criteria for measurement which all carers and care providers understand.

As an association we always support changes that improve care and applaud Staffordshire for this initiative.

But I would like to know how the funding for this potential model for the future of UK care is to be found and how too, our members will be expected to deliver it at the sharp end without substantial increases in their fees.

Answers please . . .

A full copy of the paper and access to the full consultation surveys are available at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/greenpaper


Written by debbielq

July 25, 2012 at 8:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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