The State of Care report looks at the trends, highlights examples of good and outstanding care, and identifies factors that maintain high-quality care.
This year's annual assessment shows that while the quality of health and social care in England has largely been maintained despite continuing challenges around demand and funding. However, the report shows that there is regional variation in access to, and the quality of care.
People's experiences are often determined by how well different health and care services, and councils work together. The report shows that some people can easily access good care, while others cannot access the services they need, experience ‘disjointed’ care, or only have access to poor care.
Neil Tester, Deputy Director of Healthwatch England said:
“We know from our conversations with the public that people recognise the challenges health and social care services are facing.
“Today’s report offers some reassurance that, despite the pressures, our country’s hospitals, GP surgeries and social care services are usually coping and providing good quality care. However, we must also acknowledge that some people are struggling to get the help they need.
“As the CQC found earlier in the year in its local system reviews, the best and most efficient care happens when the NHS and councils work together with people and their families to provide joined-up support. The best way of assessing this is to track people’s experiences of the support they receive, underpinned by payment mechanisms and regulation that incentivise care designed around people’s needs rather than systems.
Responding specifically on the concerns raised about social care:
“The regional variation in quality of care highlighted by the CQC is being made worse by the lack of proper advice and information out there to help people understand and plan for potential care needs. So even where services are outstanding the process of accessing help can still be incredibly distressing for people and their loved ones.
“Councils are facing growing demand for social care services, and are struggling to cope. By developing better information and advice services they can help people plan earlier and therefore reduce the urgent, ‘crisis point’ needs they currently have to deal with.
“Helping people to prepare for something that may not happen, but will have a huge impact on quality of life if it does, is the very real and very human challenge that the Government’s forthcoming proposals for the social care sector will need to address.
“Politicians and policy makers need to hear CQC’s words today and address the capacity issues in social care, but this alone will not create an environment that enables people to get the best out of life. We need to build a system that encourages earlier planning, starting with the lowest level of need and creating a culture where accessing care and support becomes a normal part of the ageing process.”