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Care providers should take note of NICE guidance

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published its first guidelines to the adult social care sector, which aims to provide more targeted ‘best practice’ advice to care providers.

The intention of the guidelines is to encourage care providers to frame their performance in terms of how well they meet the needs of those in their care, rather than simply meeting targets or quotas. The most prominent of the new recommendations include:

  • “Ensure services support the aspirations, goals and priorities of each person, and that they and their carers are treated with empathy, courtesy and respect.
  • “Make sure support focuses on what people can or would like to do, not just what they can’t do.
  • “Prioritise continuity of care by ensuring the person has the same home care worker or workers so that they can become familiar and build a relationship.”

The NICE guidance also includes ways that care providers can support those involved in domiciliary care. This includes training and development, as well as providing adequate measures to ensure carers have sufficient resources to provide the best quality of care.

Unlike the Care Quality Commission (CQC), NICE is not able to enforce its guidance. Equally, the CQC does not have any obligation to enforce guidance or protocols from any other regulator. As such, care providers which do not abide by the guidance will not, in the strictest terms, be at risk of enforcement action.

However, the CQC has welcomed NICE’s guidelines, saying: “we expect all providers to have regard for any evidence-based, best practice guidance that is in the interests of people receiving safe, caring and high-quality care.”

This is an important indication of the way in which the CQC’s recent activity is broadly inline with the NICE guidance. Care providers who are not adhering to, or choose not to abide by the new guidelines are likely to already be at risk of falling foul of CQC criteria. As such, it is their best interests to pay close attention to the NICE guidance.

Since adopting its new inspection regime, CQC regulation is now far more robust and takes a more hardened stance. In particular, a new ratings system appears to have made it more difficult for care providers to achieve the all-important ‘good’ rating, and more care providers are receiving lower ratings than before.

The changes are some of the most significant overhauls to adult social care regulation in recent memory. Much has been written about the mounting pressures facing the industry and the recently published guidance indicates there is no sign of an immediate reprieve.

Rachel Adamson heads the regulatory department at Stephensons. She is a senior and authoritative voice on issues affecting regulation of public services, particularly changes to CQC regulation for adult social care services.

We have specialists in this area and can assist you with any issues raised by the CQC or indeed any of the many different regulatory bodies you have to deal with. If you need advice please call us on 01616 966 229.