As I open the CQC website on Friday to read The state of health care and adult social care in England 2020/21 I know that the words on the page will tell the toll of the pandemic across the sector and once again the warnings the health and social care sector have been giving for many years.
It is not a light read. It is not an easy one. But it is accurate.
As I look at the forward by Ian Trenholme, CQC’s Chief Executive, and Peter Wyman, CQC’s Chair, these words stand out:
‘As we approach winter, the workforce who face the challenges ahead are exhausted and depleted, which has implications for the quality of care. They cannot work any harder – they need support to work differently.’
Government funding cannot come quick enough
Ian Trenholme says, ‘To help address the multiple challenges faced by the care system, the government has now made a welcome £5.4 billion investment – it must be used to enable new ways of working that recognise the interdependency of all care settings, not just to prop up siloed approaches and plug demand in acute care.’
Reflections in the media
The Independent with other media print the findings of the report. They draw out concerning areas including services reaching capacity, half of A&Es and urgent care services rated as “requires improvement” or were “inadequate”, retention difficulties in social care and stress and burn out across the sector.
Recruitment strife in social care
Social care providers in residential settings show staff vacancies increasing from 6.0% in April 2021 to 10.2% in September 2021. Nursing shortages have also meant there are examples of some providers having no other option than to cancel their registration to provide nursing care meaning some residents have needed support to find new homes.
CQC report that, ‘government funding must link to developing a clearly defined career pathway for social care staff – linked to training and supported by consistent investment, higher overall levels of pay to increase the competitiveness of the market, and good terms and conditions to ensure employers can attract and retain the right people.’
Working with providers these messages are not new, but it is fortuitous the independence of the regulator is being heard in a week where many have been disappointed with political response.
Individual stories of good care, a focus on the effort of the sector and innovation in the face of a pandemic are all within the pages.
Building bricks for the future
CQC say: ‘There has been learning from the pandemic that is worth building on. The appetite to operate at pace, and encourage and fund new ways of working, could now help to develop better, more coordinated care for people delivered by local services working more effectively together.’
What part can we play?
CQC’s report says it as it is, and it isn’t pretty, but we all know whatever the barriers, we do what we do for a reason.
QCS will always ensure we provide you with tools, guidance and support to focus on what matters… The care and support of individuals and your staff.
To learn more about the report, to see a summary, easy read or receive it in full please go to https://www.cqc.org.uk/publications/major-report/state-care