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Andrea Sutcliffe's column

  • Organisations we regulate

Often in these columns I take the opportunity to talk about a hot topic or to share significant findings from CQC’s publication launches. This month I want to talk about a key relationship for CQC – the one we have with trade associations that represent different parts of the adult social care sector. The work we do together mostly happens behind the scenes so I thought it might be interesting to share what we do and why it’s so important for CQC and the sector.

There are three main ways we work together: our external coproduction group; monthly engagement meetings; and through individual relationships between trade associations and CQC Heads of Inspection.

Our external coproduction group brings together a range of stakeholders to discuss various aspects of CQC’s work. We established this diverse group – including people who use services, their families and carers and organisations that represent them, providers, trade associations, staff representatives, national bodies and commissioners – to ensure we consider our work from every angle. Involving trade associations in these events is essential because they represent different parts of the sector and can make sure their member’s voice and expertise is brought directly into the room to inform our thinking. The external coproduction group started in October 2013 and we usually have very lively debates - last week we convered changes in registration, theme's for this year's State of Care report and the use of technology.

The monthly trade association meeting is chaired by me and my team of Deputy Chief Inspectors and all adult social care provider representative bodies are invited. These meetings are an open forum where we discuss our work, plans for the future and share feedback. We reintroduced these meetings in 2014 when we were piloting our new inspection approach and have continued to meet regularly to ensure we are maintaining a constructive dialogue about the challenges facing the sector, our impact on providers, and providers’ views on our work and developments.

Like the external coproduction group, what we talk about is wide ranging. At our last meeting we discussed the work of CQC’s Medicines Optimisation team, as well as sharing specific analyses we are doing for the State of Care report – some of which we were only able to do because trade associations shared with us data they had collected. We also discuss queries that are raised with the trade associations by their members, to help clarify any concerns about CQC’s approach and make sure the problems we are informed of can be followed up and resolved.

The third piece of this jigsaw is the crucial relationship between trade associations and senior staff at CQC. In the same way each service has an inspector who acts as your main point of contact; Heads of Inspection have a role in providing a link between CQC and individual trade associations. We established this in response to a request from trade association representatives themselves and this regular dialogue helps us understand and act on any issues that have been experienced at service level, and explore how we can improve our approach for specific parts of the sector. A recent example is our work with Shared Lives Plus, whose representatives are helping us to improve our understanding of their service model. We are now looking at where our guidance for both inspectors and providers can be updated to ensure it is reflective of the model – a good thing for everyone.

These different ways of working together have helped us build a constructive and valued relationship. Sometimes we have challenging conversations – the trade associations certainly let us know when they think we could be doing things better! Having these conversations is good for CQC; we learn from providers’ experiences of our regulation and can use this to reflect on our approach and improve it.

Ultimately, we all want to secure good quality care for people using adult social care services and this shared objective means we’re all focused on helping services to improve. By helping us to understand the provider landscape and experience, and sharing our guidance and resources about what works, the trade associations are a key partner in delivering this common goal.

The central message of Quality matters is that to achieve high quality adult social care for everyone, all parts of the sector need to work together to make that ambition a reality. The relationship between the CQC and the various trade associations one important way to make that happen.

Last updated:
31 May 2018


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