Shirley, our Head of Workforce Development, and I met recently with NICE Associate Director for Social Care, Jane Silvester, along with Nicola Bent, the Programme Director for Health and Social Care and Stephen Stericker, who works with the field team engaging directly with providers. We met to talk about NICE’s role which has expanded to include developing guidance and quality standards for social care.

NICE’s key role is two fold – first to produce evidence based guidance across several areas and on a range of topics, and second to develop quality standards based on the best available evidence.

We are clear that our members need to pay close attention to structures,process and outcomes to ensure at best quality doesn’t slip or, at worse, is ignored. Done well, they allow you to demonstrate the quality of service you offer to your customers and help you see how to embed best practice into your organisation. They can and should be a powerful tool – particularly when developed to take into account the views of people who might be affected by the guidance, as NICE do.

NICE published its intended library of quality standards and guidance in April. All this work is developed in consultation with the sector, people who use services and their families and carers.

Going Forward
The preparatory work has already begun, and we’ve responded on your behalf to consultations, helped recruit specialist social care members to their quality standards committee, as well as sitting on the External Reference Group.

The topics currently in development will provide commissioners and providers with evidence-based descriptions of what good care and support should look like – we argued strongly that these need to align closely with the Winterbourne Concordat Driving Up Quality Alliance Code (launched today) and with the work at CQC, to help people using care and support, as well as carers and families, to understand what they should expect.

It is vital that the sector embeds high quality into all care and support services; the concern is that there is a whole range of standards to help providers get this right. Done well, guidance, standards and key measures should make a real difference to the quality of support and services – the risk is that we end up with further tick box exercises that water down provider efforts to drive up quality.

One of the strategic priorities for ARC is to ensure the participation of providers and those who use services is genuine and really informs the development of such standards. As such, we have made a commitment to NICE to facilitate engagement and involvement by introducing consultations on our websites, and facilitating network meetings on the key topics of:

We will keep you informed about the work of NICE and we encourage you to sign up via the links above.

Look out too for the launch of our Quality and Standards Regional Network, as we’ll be inviting NICE reps to keep you in the loop.

All in all, despite its new responsibility only coming in from April this year, we were impressed by NICE’s commitment to working collaboratively to make sure that social care sits on an equal footing with health. Working in partnership with providers and their umbrella organisations across Health & Social Care is going to be key to achieving this – committing to connecting and liaison, will help make sure your voice and influence is heard and made.

Jacqueline Bell 
Chief Executive, ARC