“And the survey says…”

Over recent weeks, collectively with our sleep-in coalition colleagues, we have been in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care, Laing Buisson and Frontier Economics, as they gave us advanced notice that the Government wished to collect more market data to better understand the impact of the potential sleep-in liabilities facing providers. We certainly welcome this dialogue and engagement with the umbrella bodies but we still have a number of critical questions outstanding. See our press release earlier in the week.

So, another DHSC survey. Déjà vu anyone? We have been here before, as you may remember. Deloitte was gathering information last summer, but clearly the Government feel this wasn’t enough to indicate the fragility of the sector and the potential impact the sleep-in crisis will have.  In the interest of transparency, we have asked that, in this round of surveys, the data be shared publicly. We have also asked why the Government feels it is necessary to do this again, the proportion of the social care market they are aiming to cover and how will providers be chosen to take part.

Well, although we haven’t had a clear response by any means, it seems that a number of providers have been selected this week. The methodology as to how they’ve been selected is still not fully clear. Many members have been in touch with me to say they have been contacted and asked to complete an initial sampling survey, which will be followed up by the survey proper. The timescale to complete the sample survey has literally been a couple of days, despite our advice to DHSC about the importance of realistic timescales, leaving providers wondering what the timescales will be like for the full one.

A number of providers have said that they aren’t responding. There are many reasons why many providers have decided not to do so actually. Some targeted are ‘start –up’ providers and as they are so ‘young’ have no sleep-in liability, the six year problem doesn’t exist for them. Others have said some of their services have been selected but interestingly the ones that have minimal sleep-ins or none at all, distorting their liability by hundreds of thousand of pounds. Other members have said that the sample chosen is so small that the true liability will simply not be reflected in the survey response. Some have said they wish to focus their time and efforts of working on the requirements of the SCCS rather than this voluntary request for data. So, again I ask with a slightly suspicious mind, HOW are these services selected and how will the data collected truly reflect the extent of the problem accurately.

Whether it is coincidental, or dare I say, by design, these services have been selected, and it seems to me the scale of the issue is unlikely to be unearthed, based on what I have heard so far. Interesting, huh?

We firmly believe that robust and accurate data from providers is critical to ‘fighting’ the sectors’ corner when it comes to securing some financial support from the Treasury – it is absolutely necessary, but whether this will achieve that I am sorry to say I am not convinced. In fact the Government remain unmoved in giving any pledge of support in respect of this massive issue.

If you are an ARC member and have been contacted to take part in the survey, I am really keen to hear from you. Any information will be treated in the strictest confidence of course; it will be useful for us though to gauge the level of participation. Please drop me a note – lisa.lenton@arcuk.org.uk

Kind regards

Lisa

Lisa Lenton
ARC England Director