Dignity in Care – a responsibility for all of us

At the beginning of this week, Age UK Oxfordshire and Healthwatch Oxfordshire jointly launched their project on Dignity in Care in Oxfordshire. This is a research project that OACP fully supports and below we provide links to opportunities for Oxfordshire services to be involved. The more people who are involved, the better balanced the report will be.

The media coverage that publicised the launch contained some unpalatable accounts of poor care. We do not condone in any way individual or organisational poor practice. We need to stand tall and take this on the chin, whilst learning from what hasn’t gone well and hasn’t met an individual’s expectations. Whilst, funding shouldn’t affect service quality, clearly providers are recruiting from a commercial market place and if the drain of funding away from social care continues, the quality of delivery, as well as capacity, will suffer; an issue publicly recognised by social care leading commentators and activists, such as Angela Rippon OBE and Baroness Joan Bakewell. We are on the very edge of crisis, despite the everyday actions of committed providers.

In extreme cases, poor practice leads to injury and death.  Anyone following the tragedy of Connor Sparrowhawk, a young man of 18 with epilepsy, must have been touched by the impact on his family of his preventable death from drowning. The learning from the independent review has clear signposts for all providers, not just those supporting people with a learning disability. This case is a wake up call for all of us, even where we are sure that our practices, training and processes are up to speed and of a good standard.

As providers of care and support to vulnerable people, whether self-funders or funded by Oxfordshire County Council, we have a responsibility to ensure that all people using our services are well cared for, that they are safe, supported in a person centred way and that our services are effective, well-led and managed. If your service is regulated by CQC, or contracted by Oxfordshire County Council, periodic inspections and quality monitoring will check this. However, Dignity in Care goes right to the heart of what social care and support is about; treating each and every service user / client / patient with a respect that we would hope that we would be afforded should we ever be in that position. We encourage all providers to take the Dignity in Care challenge. How does your service match up?

Together, we have the skills, knowledge and expertise to make adult social care a proud place to work in and provide services to support people to live their life safely and independently. And we will continue to resist actions by national and local government to cut funding, undermine quality and, ultimately, affect Dignity in Care.