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Participation and quality
These are challenging times in providing social care, but there is also innovation and overall development of the sector. The recent introduction of the Care Act 2014 in England has much potential to strengthen people's involvement within their care service, personalising it and tailoring it to their needs.
Similarly in Scotland, there has been an increasing involvement and participation by people receiving care, on how that care is provided and in how its quality is developed.
Involvement and participation
The degree of participation and involvement of service users is one criterion for receiving higher grades from inspection. The highest performing services have participation of service users in all aspects of the service acting as an integral part of their ethos and operations. It is not an additional 'bolt-on' to impress inspectors or to look good in the service description. As an inspector, one service was surprised when I commended them for involving their service users in the recruitment of new staff. 'But that's how we have always done it' was their comment. That expressed to me that participation was integral and genuine, and was unlikely to cease.
The outcomes of inspections are posted on the Care Inspectorate website, and there seems to be an increasing upward trend: more services are getting gradings of 'excellent' or 'very good', and very few are judged 'unsatisfactory'. This to me seems to parallel the increasing expectations of the quality of care, due to a more empowered generation who see themselves as customers demanding an ever higher quality of provision. They also expect their views to be listened to and acted upon.
Examples of participation
There are many inspiring examples of this participation in the field. A care home service was commended recently by the inspectors for having a 'helping out' project, where residents had the opportunity to be supported in helping with certain tasks within the home. This might include helping with shopping, help in the dining room and other light tasks. In another situation, a centenarian was delighted to be able to participate in interviews to select new staff. The person described it as a new life experience for her. In another service, residents are routinely contributing issues to be discussed in staff supervision meetings.
This kind of feedback and involvement has great impact on improving the quality of services, particularly since it comes directly from the people themselves. The Care Inspectorate 'Hub' page has links to many resources online to assist services in promoting their quality in this and other ways. I hope that the increasing quality of provision will continue as services carry on sharing their good practice.
Tony Clarke – QCS Expert Scottish Care Contributor