Are customer-led ratings a fair way of regulating social work agencies?
There are several different social care regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom, each responsible for certain aspects of quality control. To begin with, we’ll take a look at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which oversees the regulation of all health and social services in England.
The main role of CQC is to monitor, inspect and regulate the health and care services provided over the length and breadth of the country. In order to do this, the Commission asks five key questions. These are:
- Is the service safe?
- Is it effective?
- Does it care about patients’ wellbeing?
- Is it responsive to their needs?
- Is it well led?
After inspection, the CQC will gather their thoughts and then publish a report, which includes ratings, overall judgement and recommendations on how services can improve. The CQC’s findings can be quite influential, and in extreme cases, social care services that are failing will find themselves subject to national news stories.
Moving on from inspection and more towards registration, in England, the Health and Care Professions Council protects the public by regulating as many as 16 health and care professions, including social workers. The HCPC took over from the General Social Care Council in 2012 to cut the cost of bureaucracy. It is itself overseen by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, which we’ll touch upon more later.
The rest of the United Kingdom has devolved organisations overseeing provisions for social care. In Scotland, the Scottish Social Services Council, set up in 2001, registers social service workers and sets standards, taking action should these benchmarks not be met. Similarly, the Care Council for Wales and the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, both established in the aftermath of UK devolution, are responsible for regulating services in those particular constituent countries.
Any social care professional looking for work with social care job agencies in the United Kingdom must, therefore, be registered with one of the aforementioned four bodies.
But who regulates the regulators?
That role lies with Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. Another relatively recent arrival on the scene, the PSA oversees the statutory bodies regulating professionals working in health and social care in the United Kingdom. The PSA ultimately are responsible for reporting to Parliament on what they find. They have direct authority over the HCPC, among others.