I have already remarked on the innovative approach by Conservative-run Staffordshire County Council in driving up standards of adult social care.
I am pleased to see that they are now embarking on a further bold initiative to improve services in this area. They have published a set of proposals including requirements of transparency so that those failing to provide an acceptable standard of care will be named and shamed.
First of all we need some relevant practical measures of what is an acceptable standard:
Measurable standards are key to monitoring the quality of services and making sure they are delivering the outcomes they were commissioned to. Standards need to be specific and objective, clearly written and contain measures that make clear the line between satisfactory delivery and sub standard delivery. A measurable standard should also allow room for a service to exceed the satisfactory level of service delivery and empower them to strive for continuous improvement. Performance has to be realistically monitored against the standards to ascertain whether the measurable standard has been met. This monitoring should be based on measurable outcomes capturing people’s experience of the service and other quality measures e.g. quantity, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness. The involvement of people who use our services to define, develop and monitor standards is the most important factor to making sure services are delivering the outcomes people want, to a level of quality they expect. If people’s desired outcomes and expectations of a service do not form this, it is impossible to determine if the service is of a good quality.
Then we need to be open about whether or not those standards are being met:
More transparent information sharing with the wider community. We will introduce a public declaration of the organisations that the county council has suspended contracts with. This will allow us to exercise our duty of care to keep the vulnerable people of Staffordshire safe and will give people more information to inform their choices when purchasing care directly. It will also act as a red light for service providers to react quickly to concerns raised to make their services safe and fit for purpose.
Regularly publish breakdown of compliments, complaints and feedback received about the services we commission and the action we have taken to resolve issues.
This strikes me as an approach that other councils should conside adopting.