Wed Jan 2024

The NCASC Event – Assurance in ASC Relating to the CQC Inspections


Written by:
Samuel Bos-Coley,
Lead Consultant

Introducing part two of our NCASC blog series led and compiled by Sam Bos-Coley and River Simmons. Last year the two took off to the NCASC event in Bournemouth. The event covered 3 key days and was intended for anybody interested in providing efficient health, social care, and education services to vulnerable adults, children, and youth, as well as those working in local government, non-profit organisations, and the private sector.

The finale of this series focuses on insights collected on ASC Assurance within CQC Inspections. Please read on to find out more about their NCASC findings.

When assurance was first introduced in 2021 there were concerns it was a huge worry for the LGA. However, there’s a belief now that this initiative lays a solid foundation for supporting the ASC sector. The link to Integrated Care System (ICS) assurance has provided councils with a roadmap to readiness.

The latest report spanning 2022-2023 reveals a movement in the field, but a noticeable gridlock persists, exacerbated by escalating cost-of-living challenges and workforce shortages. This has raised concerns about the emergence of ‘unfair care’, potentially leading to longer waits, reduced access, and poorer outcomes for certain demographics. Assurance is not about the rating. The social care market findings are that the profitability is down.


Family carers findings

Family carer findings are concerning, indicating that 30% of them feel overwhelmed. Key observations reveal inadequate systems for carer support plans, delays in assessments or reviews, and overstretched social work teams, especially in mental health and transition services.

The value of carers in supporting the sector is estimated at £162 billion, emphasising the necessity of providing them with adequate support.


National workforce strategy for care

The National Workforce Strategy for Care has seen an increase in international recruitment for ASC jobs, with 70,000 individuals arriving from overseas in 2022-23, compared to 20,000 in the previous year. While this has enriched the diversity and skills within care teams, concerns about modern slavery, Labour exploitation, and international visas persist, with 37 referrals made in 2022-23, 4x more from the prior year. The National Workforce Strategy promises to continue to call for the raised status of the adult social care workforce.


Assurance; making the case for better care

The essence of assurance lies in advocating for better care and understanding how social care impacts local outcomes and inequalities. The report emphasises comprehensive systems view to identify and address unfairness in health, care, and housing. It highlights the significance of co-production, local public judgment, and balanced performance reporting in fostering improvement. After the approach is agreed there will be assessments and collaboration on the improvement of the systems.


Themes from the assurance pilots 

NCASC made us aware that insights from assurance pilots underscore the importance of integrated working to address challenges in hospital discharge and the need to manage waiting lists for assessments. Waiting lists existed mainly due to lack of capacity in the social work assessment workforce, but LAs were managing this by prioritising risk.

Partnership working emerged as crucial for improving outcomes, while transitions from children to adult services revealed room for improvement. The social care workforce capacity issues persist, and LAs are using a range of incentives to address recruitment and retention Issues, as well as supporting the professional development of the workforce to meet local needs.

Overall, LAs had developed learning cultures to help them identify where things were not working well and take steps to improve.


Opportunities presented by systems

The local authorities need to understand and prepare for the complex and changing needs of local populations. IQS have started their work by looking at these local systems, while there are certainly opportunities to tackle inequalities, there are also large gaps that must be solved. Integrated care systems present an opportunity to solve these gaps, but local systems must implement plans to address unwarranted variations in population health and disparities beforehand.


How do we make it fair

The challenge lies in making social care fair, and understanding its repercussions on healthcare demand and funding. The CQC plays a multifaceted role as a collaborator, enabler of innovation, and exemplar of good practices. Collaboration across sectors, embracing risk, and equitable resource allocation are essential to ensure fair care for everyone. To harness the right partnerships, systems must be brave, take conscious risks, and share the profit.

The bottom line question is: how does this work for the people? It is essential to work across the boundaries of care and health, to make sure that care Is fair for everyone. This should not be an exercise on anxiety management but rather a set of well-contrasted systems that successfully assist those in need.


How confident are you?

Furthermore, insights from cabinet managers in the field stress the importance of leadership, collaboration, and clarity in strategic objectives. Building trust and confidence, understanding assessment priorities, and effectively managing resources are deemed crucial for success in the ever-evolving landscape of adult social care. A strong system is not built overnight, and constant partnership collaboration is important.

As an elected member you need to understand the pressures ahead of self-assessments they should be prioritised over any other assessment. Self-assessments help to create a successful system and ensure its constant improvement.


The NCASC event proved to be incredibly insightful, equipping Sam and River with a wealth of knowledge. Panoramic Associates eagerly anticipates future events, and we’re excited about the opportunity to continue sharing our invaluable insights.

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