Quality of care and support

We will introduce new tools to help deliver better quality services and to improve the care that people experience. We also want to clarify what quality in care and support means, by setting out principles, standards, roles and responsibilities for driving up the quality of care.

All staff working in a care organisation determine the overall quality of care that people receive, and all staff have a vital role in maintaining quality, as well as preventing and responding to abuse. All staff must understand that they must speak up if they have any concerns about the quality of care provided.

New online information on care providers

By April 2013, people will be able to access simple information on NHS Choices to help them compare care providers across England. This information will include:

  • basic information about the providers’ services
  • latest inspection reports
  • people’s views and experiences
  • feedback from members of local Healthwatch (a new consumer champion group for health and social care)

It will also include key measures to demonstrate the effectiveness and quality of care, such as information on the skills and qualifications of staff.

This information will help people make decisions about care and support for them and their families. It will also help providers to:

  • build their reputation
  • benchmark their performance
  • understand if and where they need to make improvements
  • inform their development and training of staff

People will be also able to leave online feedback, and review others’ feedback, about their experiences of care providers.

If you are a care provider, read more about how you can add your organisation’s details to NHS Choices.

Quality ratings

From 2013, the government will enable open access to the data on the PQPs. We will work with trusted organisations that are already making progress in this area, and potential new providers, to grow and develop a range of care comparison websites over the next 2 years.

People have told us that they want to be able to compare care providers quickly, as well as having access to more detail. The information on the PQPs forms the basis from which a simple and continually updated quality rating for each provider can be created.


Safeguarding is reducing the risk of abuse/neglect and responding appropriately when it happens. To improve safeguarding of adults we will:

  • make roles and responsibilities around adult safeguarding clearer
  • strengthen Safeguarding Adults Boards so they are better equipped to help people working in care and support to identify and prevent abuse and to respond when it happens
  • support and encourage local communities to be the eyes and ears of safeguarding, speaking up for people who may not be able to protect themselves
  • encourage more co-ordinated working between local authorities, NHS organisations and the police
  • set out a clear legal basis for safeguarding adults reviews, to make sure that if cases of abuse do happen, organisations learn lessons and act to minimise the risk of similar cases happening again

The different agencies will make their safeguarding actions – and the impact that they have – clearer and more visible to the public. By publishing their strategy and annual reports, the local Safeguarding Adults Boards will make it easier for the public to understand the work they are doing around safeguarding, and how the boards can hold local agencies to account for the safeguarding work they carry out.

Safeguarding Adult Boards will take an overview of the quality of services in the local area and make sure there is a focus on preventing the abuse and neglect of those in the most vulnerable circumstances.

We have also launched a consultation on a new adult safeguarding power.

Commissioning for outcomes

For care to be appropriate, effective and responsive to people’s needs, it must be commissioned on the basis of quality, people’s outcomes and value for money, and by paying care providers according to the results they deliver.

However, we know that the commissioning practices of some local authorities – such as specifying an unrealistic number or type of tasks to be carried out in a 10 to 15 minute period – can undermine people’s dignity and choice. This is unacceptable. We will work with commissioners, care providers, people who use services and carers, to bring an end to commissioning practices that undermine people’s dignity and choice.

Care audit

To help care providers test themselves against national quality standards, we will work with care providers to develop and pilot a new, nationally agreed, care audit for local use in 2013 and 2014.

The pilot care audit will focus on dementia care. It will help residential care providers to focus on delivering high quality dementia care by allowing them to test the quality of their care practice against the nationally agreed National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Standard for the care of people with dementia. People with dementia who are being supported by providers taking part in the pilot should see improvements to their care, as those providers identify how their service can be improved.

If successful, there will be a wider rollout of care audits on different topics in care and support.


Healthwatch will be the new consumer champion organisation for both health and social care. Healthwatch England will work at a national level from October 2012. Local Healthwatch will work in local areas in England from April 2013. The aim of local Healthwatch will be to give citizens and communities a stronger voice to influence and challenge how health and social care services are provided within their area.

The involvement of local Healthwatch in social care will potentially help strengthen the voice of people who use care and support, which will ultimately help to improve the quality of care provided. The improved online information about local care providers will be strengthened by including feedback from local Healthwatch members.

Over time, local Healthwatch will become a valuable source of information for care providers about how they are performing and it will also help to inform decisions about commissioning.

Bringing clarity to quality

We must make sure that we embed high quality into all care and support services. The document ‘Bringing Clarity to Quality in Care and Support’, published on 11 July, aims to:

  • help people understand what to expect when they use care and support services
  • help those working in care and support to be clearer about what quality is
  • clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different types of organisations working in care and support

We have asked the Think Local Act Personal partnership to develop this work. A final version of this framework will be published before the end of 2012.

Download Bringing Clarity to Quality in Care and Support (PDF, 196K)

NICE social care quality standards

From April 2013, NICE will develop a library of quality standards and guidance to improve the quality of care and support, in consultation with the care and support sector, care users, their families and carers.

Soon the Department of Health will be referring an initial list of social care quality standard topics to NICE to start preparatory work on later this year.

By creating a library of care and support quality standards, we will provide commissioners and providers with evidence-based descriptions of what good care and support should look like. This will also help people using care and support, carers and families to understand what they should expect.

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