The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its annual assessment of health and social care in England. The state of health care and adult social care in England 2018/19 maintains that, overall; the quality of care across England is improving slightly though the care sector is one of continual challenge and increased pressures.
The report has revealed that people are falling at the first hurdle and struggling to access the care that they need until it is too late and things have significantly worsened for them. Too many people find it hard to even get appointments and the lack of access is especially worrying when it affects people who are less able to speak up for themselves – such as children and young people with mental health problems or people with a learning disability.
This can mean that people reach a level of ‘crisis’ that requires immediate intervention which isn’t always the appropriate solution and that vulnerable people are spending too long in services which aren’t suitable for them.
Since October 2018, the CQC have rated as inadequate 14 independent mental health hospitals that admit people with a learning disability and/or autism, and put them into special measures. Today’s report acknowledges that a better system of care is needed for people with a learning disability or autism who are, or are at risk of, being hospitalised, segregated and placed in overly restrictive environments.
A snapshot of the report reveals:
- The care given to people with a learning disability or autism is not acceptable.
- Other types of care are under pressure.
- More and better community care services are needed.
- Care services and organisations must work more closely together.
- More room and support needs to be given for innovations in care.
There was also a focus on better integrated and community services, again, to prevent people being pushed into crisis. In particular, integrated approaches to commissioning, which was highlighted as something that needs to become widespread instead of localised.
The report does celebrate some success, with 80% of services now being rated good or outstanding. Going forward, there is also a clear understanding of the need the embrace innovation in care, particularly when it comes to technology and smarter workforce planning. As it stands at the moment, the CQC could not find enough example of joined-up thinking between commissioners and providers where new technology is central to improving the quality of care for people.
In response to today’s report, Vice-President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), James Bullion, said:
‘Those of us who are disabled, mentally unwell or vulnerable and older, and those of us who care in families, need increased longer-term funding for social care, together with a long-term Social Care plan, so that we can create a system fit for the twenty-first century. This must be a Government priority, co-produced with people and professionals, and not yet another empty promise.’