Commissioners and providers working better for older people, review finds

The health and social care system has significantly improved for older people living in Stoke-on-Trent, a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report has concluded.

The regulator carried out a review into services in the Staffordshire city as a follow up to an earlier report, published in September 2017. The initial report looked specifically at how older people move through the system, focusing on how services work together to provide care for those aged 65 and over.

At that time the CQC found older people sometimes had poor experiences and did not always have access to the right care in a timely fashion. This was due to the health and social care system – led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group – not working in a joined-up way to meet people’s needs.

The report said quality in the independent social care market and how commissioners worked with providers had improved.

It said: ‘At the time of the Local System Review, 16% of nursing homes, 2% of residential care homes and 3% of domiciliary care agencies were rated as Inadequate. By September 2018, there were no services rated as Inadequate and the percentage of nursing homes rated as good had increased from 26% to 42%.’

Reviewers said there was still a need to continue this work ‘at pace’ as the numbers of people living in services rated as Good were still comparatively low compared to across England.

They found that system leaders made ‘significant progress’ in building relationships and enabling more effective communication across the system.

Suggestions for improvement included making sure staff with the right skills were employed; better information and data sharing across organisations; and ensuring that people who are in the last days of their lives are receiving the care they need in their preferred setting.

Professor Steve Field (pictured), CQC chief inspector of primary medical services and integrated care, said: ‘It was encouraging to see the changes that had taken place since our initial review of how services work together in Stoke-on-Trent.

‘We found that the culture had shifted and system leaders, including elected members, shared the same vision and were supportive of each other. There was greater transparency between leaders meaning they could address issues together. This had helped them to make progress and improve people’s experience of care.’

The report was one of 23 targeted reviews being carried out by the regulator.