STATE OF CARE: Care quality maintained in challenging environment

Care quality has been maintained and, in some cases, improved in 2017/18 with more than four-fifths of adult care services rated Good or Outstanding, the CQC has revealed.

This year’s State of Care report shows that the percentage of Outstanding adult social care services rose to 3%, compared with 2% as at July 31 2017. Those services rated Good rose to 79% from 78% in the previous year.

In volume terms, there were almost 250 more Outstanding services than in the previous year with the total rising to 605.

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On the downside, almost one in five services were rated Requires Improvement or Inadequate. There improvements even here, however, with services rated Requires Improvement declining from 19% to 17%. Adult social care services rated Inadequate remained at 1% of the overall market. The number of Inadequate services rose slightly in the year.

Improvements were made despite ongoing challenges around demand and funding, and workforce pressures as providers struggled to retain and recruit staff.

The CQC said: “The efforts of staff, leaders and carers that ensure that people continue to receive good, safe care despite these challenges must be recognised and applauded.”

By key question, 95% of services were rated as Good or Outstanding for Caring, the same as last year. On the downside, more than one in five services were rated Requires Improvement or Inadequate for the Safe and Well-led key questions. With the strong link between good leadership and high quality care, the CQC said this was an area of concern.

The regulator added that whether services were Safe remained another key concern, although there were improvements in this area, with 79% of services rated Good compared with 76% last year. Less than 0.5% of services achieved Outstanding for the Safe key question.

Improvements were seen for both residential and nursing services in the Safe key question, although the latter still had almost one in three services rated Requires Improvement. The CQC said nursing homes had been particularly effected by workforce issues. It noted the national shortage in qualified nurses and said low pay disparities between NHS and independent services could also be an issue.

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