The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently conducted a survey in which 84% of the survey’s respondents said that choosing care (whether home care or residential care) for an older relative was stressful. I’m not sure that finding exactly breaks new ground. It is more an affirmation of what we know from our own experience or the experience of others who have sought care for loved ones. And even if you have no experience of finding care for a relative the CQC’s finding will hit you as being intuitively correct. Even the most pleasant of life’s events are stressful. Finding care for a relative does not fall into the category of pleasant events; therefore, it is of little surprise that we find it so stressful.
The CQC, incidentally, is the independent body that regulates health and social care in England. The survey was conducted during the period 7 July to 19 August 2014 and was prepared by Mumsnet for the CQC. All 259 of the respondents were users of Mumsnet or Gransnet. The survey’s publication coincides with the announcement from the CQC of the changes to its inspection regime for care homes and adult social care providers.
The CQC’s survey findings make it very clear that what you want when you are searching for care for a relative is clear information. One of the things that we struggle with today is not that information is unavailable but that there is too much information available. Of course, there will be exceptions, but on the whole finding information is not the greatest challenge that you have.
The sheer volume of information available is sometimes close to overwhelming. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, there are only so many hours in a day. The internet is a fantastic source of information, but all benefits have their drawbacks. With the internet it is the danger of information overload. There is then the question of at just what point do you stop gathering the information? There is always the temptation to get a little more just in case…
What the CQC is attempting to do with the change to its inspection regime is to provide straightforward easily digestible information for people looking for a care provider – whether a domiciliary care provider or a residential care home. Richard Howard, the news editor of homecare.co.uk explains that the CQC will use “Specialist teams, that include trained members of the public known as ‘Experts by Experience’, [who] will… [decide] the rating for each care home and home care service, which will be Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate.”
The CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, has this to say about the new inspection approach that the CQC is taking:
“From this month, we are introducing our strengthened way of inspecting care homes and other adult social care services across England, using expert inspectors who will base their judgements on what matters most to the people who use them. We will rate services as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate so that the public has clear, jargon-free and reliable information of what we have found.”
“Working with the sector, this will remove the mystery that often shrouds care homes and other services and help people to have confidence in their care services and their choices.”
There are clear advantages in having a simple rating system. The recent CQC survey found that people who are looking for care for their relatives would welcome a report that tells them whether a provider is good or outstanding. However, anyone relying on a rating system would be advised to look behind the rating at the detail. Future CQC reports should be, just as current CQC reports are, just one piece of information – a very significant piece of information – that is used to choose a care provider.