The White Paper: Caring for our future: reforming care and support: an information revolution?

A great deal of public attention has focussed on the introduction in England of a universal system of deferred payments for residential care which, it is proposed, will take effect from April 2015. However, an area that has received limited media coverage is the less sensational commitment to improving the information available to support people who have care needs, even though this potentially ground breaking initiative has already started.

The Government commits in the White Paper to “give people access to clear and comparative information about the quality of care providers and the options they offer, so that people are empowered to make informed decisions.”   A laudable statement of intent, as we are sure you will agree.  However, what is perhaps less well known is that the Government started the “information portal” on the day the White Paper was published. Chapter 5 records the moment in bold type, stating;

“From today, every registered residential or home care provider will have a provider quality profile on the NHS and social care information website at www.nhs.uk.”  

Small beginnings but the intention is to build up the profiles over the next year so that “by April 2013, it will give people a fuller picture of the quality they can expect from a care provider.”

You might want to look yourself up!

The direct link is:

http://www.nhs.uk/carersdirect/guide/practicalsupport/pages/carehomes.aspx

You will need to type in your postcode to get to your profile. There is not much information up at the moment but that is due to change.

Provider quality profiles will include key measures to demonstrate the effectiveness and quality of care, collected as part of the Provider Transparency and Quality Compact (“the Compact”). They are different from the Care Quality Commission Provider Profiles available on the regulator’s website.

The data which will be collected under the Compact from this autumn is likely to include:

  • staff turnover (both home care and care homes)
  • ratios of trained to untrained staff (both home care and care homes)
  • compliments and complaints (both home care and care homes)
  • % residents developing new pressure ulcers (care homes)
  • % residents who have a fall (care homes)
  • number of medication errors (care homes)
  • % of appointments not missed (home care)
  • appointments carried out at the agreed time (home care)

Many providers may not even be aware of this important agreement.  The commencement date of the Compact coincided with, and is linked to, the publication on 28 June 2012 of the Government’s White Paper on Open Data.  As at that date it had been signed by the following large providers:

  • Anchor Trust
  • Barchester Healthcare
  • Bupa
  • Four Seasons Healthcare
  • Good Care Group
  • HC-One
  • Methodist Homes Association
  • Saga
  • Westminster Homecare

The trade bodies involved are the English Community Care Association, the National Care Forum and the UK Home Care Association.  The expectation is that over time more providers will sign up to the Compact.  We would recommend that all providers consider how they might join the Compact to ensure that relevant data can be submitted and included on the NHS website.

The quality profiles will also include “the views of the users of the care provider, and their families, pooled from high-quality feedback websites.”  It will be of obvious interest to the sector which websites will be chosen as “high-quality” given the industry wide debates about the rash of comparative sites that seem to be springing up at the moment.

The White Paper also states that care providers will be able to “add their own information, including pictures and videos, to their quality profile.”

This quality profile initiative could be hugely significant for the sector.  As the White Paper indicates,

“It will be nationally determined and consistent, to enable easy comparison between care providers across the country. As well as supporting the public in making decisions about the right care and support options for them and their families, it will assist care providers in benchmarking their performance and will support the development and training of staff.”

And it doesn’t end there. The White Paper states:

“Within 12 months, the Government will enable open access to the data on the provider quality profile, to support the production of independent quality ratings that are easy to understand and continually update.  We will work with trusted organisations which are already making progress in this area, and with potential new providers, to grow and develop a range of comparison websites over the next two years.”

So long as the scheme remains voluntary, does not require disclosure of commercially sensitive information and is not subject to independent monitoring (the sector has enough regulation as it is), the Compact may be a real opportunity for high quality services to share their achievements with commissioners and service users.  In short, the sector should give the scheme a cautious welcome.

You may want to position your services to take full advantage of this initiative for fear of being left behind by those providers already firmly in the starting blocks.

We would be delighted to assist you in managing the transition to the data enhanced quality profile which is due to be in place by April 2013. We are here to help.

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