Suffolk's health and social care services rated good by CQC with shortfalls also highlighted

By Derek Davis

19th Nov 2023 | Local News

Suffolk CC delighted (Picture: Nub News)
Suffolk CC delighted (Picture: Nub News)

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), has published a report indicating that Suffolk County Council are ensuring people have good access to adult social care and support.  

CQC has a new responsibility to assess how local authorities meet their duties under Part 1 of the Care Act (2014). CQC has been piloting its approach to these new assessments in five local authorities who volunteered to participate. This assessment of Suffolk County Council was part of the pilots. CQC will be incorporating any learning from the pilots and evaluation into the formal assessment approach.

CQC looked at nine areas to assess how well the authority is meeting their responsibilities in order to create their indicative good rating. CQC has given each of these nine areas an indicative scoring out of four with one being evidence shows significant shortfalls, and four showing an exceptional standard.

  • how the local authority works with people – indicative score of two
  • supporting people to lead healthier lives – indicative score of three
  • equity in experience and outcomes – indicative score of two
  • providing support (care provision, integration and continuity) – indicative score of three
  • partnership and communities – indicative score of three
  • how the local authority ensures safety in the system – indicative score of two
  • safeguarding – indicative score of three 
  • leadership – indicative score of three
  • learning, improvement and innovation – indicative score of three

James Bullion, CQC's chief inspector of adult social care and integrated care, said: "At this assessment of Suffolk's health and social care services, CQC found dedicated and resilient front-line staff who were committed to delivering high-quality care and support. They were supported by effective leaders who had created a positive culture and used data to inform strategic decisions and drive action.

"People shared the positive experiences they had using the local authority's services, saying they were compassionate, flexible, and focused on their individual needs.

"It was also encouraging to see Suffolk County Council's integration with local health partners, and the clear focus they all had on prevention. It was exciting to see them working on innovative approaches in this area, for example using digital equipment to reduce the need for formal care interventions, and increase independence and well-being.

"Moving mental health staff back from the local NHS trust into the local authority was seen as a really positive move. Staff said it had enabled them to be more responsive and provide more holistic and person-centred mental health care and support for Suffolk's residents.

"However, there were also some areas where we've told them to make improvements, like improving access to their contact centre which was causing delays in assessments.

"Suffolk County Council should be really pleased with this assessment, and it means they have a great foundation on which to build more improvements. We look forward to returning to see how they've done this."

The assessment team found:

  • Staff were overwhelmingly positive about working for the local authority including the leadership and culture. Support with staff well-being, learning and development, and career progression was good.
  • Systems and governance were in place to enable the local authority to assess and understand how well they were performing as an organisation and act on it. A culture of learning and improving from incidents was embedded.
  • The local authority's digital care partnership was using technology such as sensors and falls prevention equipment in people's own homes to help people live independently and provide reassurance to carers. There were plans to develop further digital solutions to continue to support people in creative ways such as plans to use virtual reality technology with people living with dementia.
  • All locality teams knew their communities well and understood the needs of people using services.

However, the assessment team also found:

  • People, staff and partners who used Customer First, the initial point of contact when contacting the local authority, reported delays in getting through and with some assessments.
  • The assessment team found there were challenges with ensuring suitable accommodation was available for some people. Gaps in provision were identified, for example in dementia care, nursing care and services for people with complex needs.
  • Voluntary sector and care partners told us improvements could be made in better partnership working, communication, and how systems joined up together. This would improve information sharing, learning, and give a better understanding of people's needs in local communities.

Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, Cabinet Member for Adult Care at Suffolk County Council said: "I am delighted, this is a fantastic result for Suffolk County Council, especially for those colleagues working within Adult Social Care. 

"I am especially pleased to see areas like Safeguarding rated as good, this is a real acknowledgement of the hard work SCC and partners have put in place over the last few years to learn from every incident and work closely together as a system to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable in our community. 

"I believe this rating is also a testament to the high levels of financial investment we as a council have consistently put into Adult Social Care over the years, especially during the dark days of the pandemic, and shows how through imagination and service transformation, we are delivering on our priority to put people's health and wellbeing at the top of our agenda as a local authority.  

"Of course, there is always more that can be done with something as complex as Adult Social Care and we certainly won't take this overall rating for granted. There are challenges ahead which this report touches upon, but what this rating ultimately should do is give us all confidence that we have the right people and processes in place to provide good quality Adult Social Care services for the people of Suffolk."

The assessment will be published on CQC's website today, Friday 17 November.


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