Care providers ”took their eye off the ball”

Social care providers are not sufficiently focused on projecting an image of quality for their sector and have become too reliant on regulators to maintain standards, MPs have been told.

Peter Hay, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, told the Commons Health Committee’s inquiry into social care that some providers had taken their eye off the ball where quality is concerned. And he urged providers to work with service commissioners on contract monitoring and quality assessment.

He said: “One of the key issues here is that social care is in urgent need of reform. It needs a single coherent framework against which we set out what is important and how that is delivered.

“The key issues are ensuring the involvement of both the commissioner and, increasingly, people who hold those budgets themselves in determining and assuring the level of quality so that there is constant vigilance about value for money and the quality being delivered to the standards that people expect.”

Hay went on: “If you are in the business of providing care, it is your business to assure yourself about the front line and the quality of it. That emphasis has been lost in recent years. This is still an industry that, occasionally, says it is the responsibility of the regulator and not the provider to project quality. Reflecting, particularly, on recent events, the fact that the eye was not on the ball of quality, from the people whose business it is, has been a serious shortcoming in the system.”

The committee also heard from Jo Webber, deputy policy director at the NHS Confederation, who described many residential homes as “small islands of care”.

She added: It is very easy, within a small island of care, to get adrift of standards and quality.”