Adult Social Care Ombudsman’s Annual Review of Complaints Published

Over the past year, the ombudsman has become increasingly concerned about the way some authorities are handling the need to balance the pressures they are under with the way they assess and charge for care.

The report, which looks at the data behind every adult social care complaint the Ombudsman has received over the 12-month period, shows there has been a nine per cent increase in complaints about charging and that of those complaints, it is upholding 67% – higher than the average uphold rate for adult social care of 62%, and greater still than the 57% uphold rate for all complaints the Ombudsman investigates.

Key Areas of Concern Leading to Complaints

  • Assessment and care planning.
  • How care is paid for.
  • Problems with whole systems and individual organisation’s policies being wrongly applied.

Over the past year, the ombudsman has made 274 recommendations to authorities and providers to improve procedures or undertake staff training – a 19% increase on the previous year.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care for the CQC said “These are challenging times for adult social care with pressure on resources, increasing demands and workforce shortages all having an impact on the quality and consistency of care that people receive.

“In these circumstances, it’s more important than ever that those in charge of running and commissioning care services actively listen and learn from people’s experiences, concerns and complaints.

“CQC sees regular evidence of this in the four-fifths of adult social care services currently rated as good or outstanding across the country, but as this report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman once again highlights, this isn’t the case for everyone.

“Ensuring complaints policies are accessible, that people know how to raise issues, their concerns are responded to and any promised action gets sorted is all part of delivering truly responsive and well-led care. Where we find that isn’t happening, CQC will take action in the interests of people, their families and carers, who deserve better.”

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Shortlist for 2018 Educational Writers’ Award Announced

The Society of Authors and the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society have announced the shortlist for the 2018 Educational Writers’ Award, the UK’s only award for educational writing that stimulates and enhances the learning experience.

Now in its eleventh year, the Educational Writers’ Award was established in 2008 by the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and the Society of Authors (SoA), ‘to celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications’. The 2017 winner was The Book of Bees, written by Wojciech Grajkowski, illustrated by Piotr Socha, and translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud.

The five outstanding books for readers aged 11-18 years on this year’s shortlist explain the importance of sanitation, demystify coding, chart the history of painting, and illuminate the lives and minds of migrants, and LGBTQ+ people.

The 2018 Shortlist

LOOS SAVE LIVES: How Sanitation & Clean Water Help Prevent Poverty, Disease & Death 
Author: Seren Boyd
(Publisher: Wayland)

Packed full of stats and facts about water and waste, this is a book about the importance of the humble loo.  It explains why children who have access to a safe, clean loo at school are more likely to stay in education, get better jobs and escape poverty.

How To Think Like A Coder… Without Even Trying!
Author: Jim Christian
Illustrator: Paul Boston
(Publisher: Batsford)

Computers are all around us, from traffic lights to cash machines – it just takes a little common sense to work out what makes them tick, says this bright illustrated guide, which shows that you don’t need to have computing experience to know how to code.  Full of puzzles and exercises suitable for all ages that will help you think logically, work within constraints and deconstruct problems, it turns everyday situations into opportunities for coding.

From Prejudice to Pride: A History of the LBGTQ+ Movement
Author: Amy Lamé
(Publisher: Wayland)

An illuminating account of the rise and achievements of the LGBTQ+ movement for equal rights: the various communities and pioneers that have emerged, and the stories of heartbreak and courage that have unfolded alongside it, by London’s Night Czar. From the trial of Oscar Wilde and the Stonewall riots, to the AIDS crisis and same-sex marriage, it gives insights into shifting attitudes that have challenged lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, which also help us understand what it is to be LGBTQ+ today.

The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children
Author/Illustrator: Mick Manning & Brita Granström
(Publisher: Franklin Watts)

This imaginative introduction to art history for children takes readers on a journey through time from Stone Age cave art to the graffiti-inspired work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. It takes in Rembrandt, Picasso, Turner, Frida Kahlo, Kalan Khan, Laura Knight and many others along the way, telling the stories behind the paintings and their creators.

Far From Home: Refugees and Migrants Fleeing War, Persecution & Poverty
Author: Cath Senker
(Publisher: Franklin Watts)

This richly illustrated book examines the root causes of mass migrations of people due to war, extreme poverty and persecution, explaining some of the specific conflicts, political situations and cultural issues that dominate the headlines surrounding refugees and migrants in the 21st century. It includes first-hand accounts of everything from life in refugee camps to finding a new home in safe countries.

The winner of the 2018 Educational Writers’ Award will be announced at the
All Party Writers Group (APWG) Winter Reception at the House of Commons on Tuesday 4 December. The winning author/illustrator will receive a cheque for £2,000.


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Female Graduates Age 29 Earn an Average of 29% More Than Non-Graduates

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published the findings of the biggest ever study into young people’s earnings.

Researchers found that the vast majority of graduates with a degree are earning more at the age of 29 than those who do not go to university.  The study shows that there continues to be a graduate premium and that women benefit from this premium the most.

Data shows that female and male graduates are earning 28% and 8% more on average than their counterparts who opted for a different route of study after leaving school. As graduates’ earnings rise more quickly during their early and mid-careers, particularly for men, it is expected that returns will increase further once looked at over a lifetime.

The research, which will help policy makers, regulators and students understand the different outcomes from different courses and universities, also shows that a number of institutions deliver negative financial outcomes for approximately 4% of male and 0.4% of female students. That is to say, graduates from these institutions earn less than the average person with similar A Level grades who did not go to university at all.

There are several possible reasons for this:

  • Students choosing to study courses that have a high social value when in employment, but not necessarily high wages
  • Students opting to study subjects such as creative arts, drama and music with low proportions of people going on to earn high salaries.
  • Students attending a university in a part of the country where wages are below the national average, who then stay in that area, adding to its economy, but not necessarily earning as much as they could elsewhere.

But there are still cases where students aren’t necessarily choosing the institution that will deliver the best returns for their course. The study shows how for some studying the same subject at a different institution – or indeed continuing their education at an alternative to university – could significantly increase their future earnings and career prospects.

Financial outcomes are of course just one of the considerations that students have when choosing a university. The benefits of higher education are not limited to increasing a graduate’s salary. For example, many people will wish to pursue public service, third sector careers or the arts which have a very high social value, but which aren’t necessarily amongst the most highly paid.

The Office for Students is already using its powers to tackle institutions with poor student outcomes data, imposing additional registrations conditions on university including London Metropolitan University and Bolton University in response to specific concerns.

Concerns were raised with Bolton over employment outcomes for PGCE students, while London Metropolitan were criticised over professional employment for undergraduates, and postgraduate progression. Both are now required to construct an improvement plan around their continuation and completion rates.

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CMA Publishes Advice on Obligations for Care Homes

The CMA has published advice for care homes on their responsibilities under consumer law.  The advice forms part of their ongoing consumer protection work focusing on residential care homes and nursing homes for older people (over 65s).

It follows the CMA’s examination of the sector last year, which found that some residents are at risk of being treated unfairly and recommended urgent action to reform the sector.

The CMA has also published an open letter to care homes, reminding them of their responsibilities under consumer law and urging them to review the advice immediately. Care homes may need to make changes to their contract terms and business practices as a result.

New advice sets out what care homes across the UK need to do to ensure they are treating their residents fairly, including:

  • what upfront information they should give to potential residents, their families or other representatives and when (through websites, over the phone and when people visit) to help them make informed choices. This includes giving an indication of the weekly fees charged to self-funders and highlighting any especially important or surprising terms and conditions that will apply (such as any requirement for residents to prove they can pay for their own care for a minimum period of time)
  • how to make sure contract terms and the way residents and their representatives are treated is fair
  • how to handle complaints fairly and ensure their complaints procedure is easy to find and use

Working with its partners, such as Trading Standards, the CMA will be conducting a review in 12 months’ time to assess how well care homes are complying with consumer law. It may take further action before then if it finds care homes are treating residents and their families unfairly and breaking the law.

CMA Chief Executive, Andrea Coscelli said “It’s vital that care homes treat residents and their families fairly, which is why we have issued advice to all homes across the UK to help them understand what they should and should not be doing under consumer law.

We’ve already taken action against some providers who charged compulsory upfront fees or continued to charge for extended periods after a resident’s death.

We’ll continue to monitor how well care homes are complying and won’t hesitate to take action again if we find evidence that providers have broken consumer law.”

The CMA has also published a short guide for care homes to accompany the full advice, as well as a short guide for residents and their families that explains their rights under consumer law.

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A Team of Graduates From York University Wins National Video Game Competition

A team of university graduates from York has won a national competition that could help take their video game into the homes of millions of gamers.Mujo Games took part in Tranzfuser, the Government’s video game development competition where graduates pit their original video games against one another to win up to £25,000 from the UK Games Fund.

The team won with an abstract rhythm game they created called Yellow Rock Road. Players take on the role of a time travelling band, and tap two buttons to keep in time with the music. It impressed the judges with its vibrant art, superb soundtrack and use of players’ own music libraries.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said “Over the past three years Tranzfuser has been identifying and nurturing the UK’s next top video game developers to turn their original and innovative ideas into reality. Mujo Games are worthy winners and I would like to congratulate all the teams who took part this year.

Through our modern Industrial strategy we are committed to ensuring the UK games industry continues to translate its energy, skills and talent into even greater economic success.”

The Government’s £5 million UK Games Fund (UKGF) is delivered by UK Games Talent and Finance and has so far supported 250 graduates and more than 90 companies from across the UK to create their own video games.

Over the summer, Tranzfuser gave 17 teams from across the UK £5,000 and gave them just ten weeks to develop their idea for a great game from concept to playable demo.  In September their games were showcased at the UK’s most popular consumer video games show, EGX, at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.  They not only had to impress the 80,000 fans at EGX, but pitch their projects to a panel of industry experts in gruelling publisher-style sessions to be in with a chance of winning the funding.  This process aims to help these early stage teams develop the crucial skills needed to pitch for funding in their future careers.

Joni Levinkind, lead programmer at Mujo Games, said: “Winning Tranzfuser has opened so many opportunities for our team, and we really hope to make the most of them. We are all incredibly excited to find out what the future holds.All of our team members have gained a range of skills from game development to management, marketing, and financial planning. We have learnt so much and feel more confident in our ability to succeed as independent developers within the games industry.”

The Tranzfuser teams developed a wide range of fun and innovative games, from single-player puzzles to multiplayer room-scale Virtual Reality experiences. Teams also received invaluable support and expertise throughout the competition from a nationwide network of Tranzfuser Local Hubs based at some of the best UK universities for video game design and development.

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Poor Risk Management and Safeguarding Issues Lead to CQC Registration Being Cancelled

The CQC has cancelled Viewpark Care Home’s registration following multiple breaches of the regulations, and ongoing and serious concerns in relation to the provision of safe care and treatment.

There were repeated breaches in relation to:

  • The Mental Capacity Act,
  • assessing and mitigating risks to people’s health and wellbeing,
  • the safe management of medicines,
  • safeguarding procedures,
  • supervision of staff,
  • consent,
  • deprivation of liberty safeguards,
  • good governance
  • and acting openly and transparently.

In addition:

  • Staff were not following the advice of a professional and were providing food
    and drinks of an incorrect consistency.
  • There were ongoing issues in relation to the safe management of medicines. Staff did not always monitor the temperatures that medicines were stored. When temperatures had been monitored, there was a lack of evidence to show the appropriate actions had been taken if temperatures had exceeded manufacturers
    recommendations. This meant there was a risk these medicines might not work as effectively.
  • The administration of medicines was not always accurately reflected on the medication administration records (MARs).
  • There were shortfalls in actions taken to ensure the safety of the premises.
  • The provider had not obtained a required safety check of the passenger lift.
  • There were no robust procedures in place to ensure staff employed were of suitable character.
  • Staff were not following the home’s financial procedures and people were at increased risk of financial abuse as a result.
  • There were missed opportunities for staff to engage with people and to set up activities.
  • People were not aware of having been given the opportunity to be involved in developing or reviewing their care plans, and there was no documentary evidence of such involvement.

There had been multiple whistleblowers to CQC, issues raised included:

  • concerns about the registered manager’s treatment of staff.
  • staff within the service had not always acted openly and transparently in relation to issues arising in the service.
  • The systems in place to monitor and improve the quality and safety of the service were not effective.

Debbie Westhead, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care said “The provider was given every chance to improve the service and provide high-quality consistent care. On serval occasions we found the home putting people at risk by not taking the advice from healthcare professionals. We also had serious concerns over the management and leadership of the service.

“Taking enforcement action of this nature is not something we take lightly, nevertheless the safe care and treatment of people using services is our highest priority and they deserve safe, effective high-quality care.”

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Have Your Say Over the CQC’s Proposed Changes to Regulatory Fees

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its consultation on provider fees for 2019/20.

Proposed changes will affect:

  • community social care (including domiciliary care)
  • dental services
  • residential social care

The Proposals

The CQC’s proposals will see an increase in fees for the community social care sector and the dental sector, and a decrease in fees for the residential social care sector.

  • An average community social care provider will see an increase in fees of £290.
  • Dental services with one location will see an increase of between £69 and £149 (depending on the number of dental chairs on site).
  • Dental services with multiple locations will see an increase of between £183 and £6871 (depending on the number of locations).
  • An average social care provider will see a decrease in fees of £64.

How to give your views

You can view the CQC consultation documents online (click here) and have your say using the online feedback form.

This consultation closes at noon on Thursday 17 January 2019.

What Happens Next

The CQC will analyse the feedback from this consultation to prepare a response and a final fees scheme to recommend to the Secretary of State, whose consent is required to implement the scheme from 1 April 2019.

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Graduate Unemployment Rate Has Fallen to Its Lowest Since 1979!

The unemployment rate for graduates six months after leaving university fell to 5.1% this year – the lowest since the 1979 survey when it was 4.9%.

Prospects’ What do graduates do? 2018 report shows a robust graduate labour market.

Employment increased from 74.2% to 76.6% (184,295) as 4,540 more graduates found jobs compared to last year. The proportion of employed graduates in professional-level roles also increased, from 71.4% to 73.9%.

Skills shortages across many industries appear to have helped job prospects with increases in those entering professional jobs across all degree subjects. More graduates qualified in high demand subjects, such as IT, engineering, accountancy and marketing, went into their vocationally linked roles as a result.

Changes to the balance of occupations could also be indicative of skills shortages with maths graduates working in IT and engineering over the more typical business services roles. There were also more physics graduates working in IT, and the marketing industry proved much more popular this year among geography and English graduates.

The skills shortage also appears to have impacted salaries as the average starting salary for graduates increased from £21,776 to £22,399 this year. All regions saw a rise, with the Midlands, East of England and Northern Ireland seeing the largest percentage increases.

Charlie Ball, head of higher education intelligence at Prospects, said: ‘Skills shortages have been a feature of the graduate labour market since the recovery from the last recession. There are signs that this may have helped to fuel a modest rise in salaries as well as job prospects.’

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Networking, Workforce Management Software and Productive Team Meetings Contribute to CQC Outstanding Rating

Carefound Home Care (Wilsmlow) a care agency in Wilmslow Cheshire has received an overall rating of Outstanding following an inspection in August 2018 by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors rated the service Outstanding for being safe, effective, caring responsive and well-led.

Carefound Home Care (Wilsmlow) is a domiciliary care agency. It provides personal care to people living in their own homes. At the time of the inspection there were a total of 21 people using the service.

Key Findings:

  • Inspectors found the service had exceptional and distinctive methods to ensure people were cared for by staff they could connect well with.
  • They actively recruited staff who had shared interests with people using the service.
  • The service spent a lot of time planning the care for people and ensured they were matched with carers with whom they could develop a close bond.
  • The service used specialist workforce management software to ensure safe staffing levels. These were closely monitored daily. They were then analysed and discussed at monthly management meetings.
  • Staff were given enough time in between calls to travel to the next appointment. People who used the service told us that the system worked and staff were always on time.
  • Patients and their families were encouraged to approach staff if they felt improvements could be made to their care.
  • Inspectors saw evidence of the management team working closely with a number of outside health organisations to research the best possible care for people with certain health conditions. The information gained was cascaded throughout the organisation and included in training packages. This led to staff having an exceptional understanding of the medical conditions that the people they cared for suffered from.

Debbie Westhead, Deputy Chief Inspector, for Adult Social Care in the North, said “This is a service where the staff and management are clearly passionate about providing personalised care and have created an environment where people are treated with compassion, dignity and respect in a persons’ own home. People and their relatives were overwhelmingly positive about the high quality, individualised care that was provided by the staff.

“The staff and management should be proud of their achievement in attaining our highest rating and I would like to congratulate them on their provision of high quality care.”


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Are You Ready for National Start-Ups Day on 22nd October?

National Start-Up’s Day celebrates the UK’s flourishing start-up community for a third consecutive year on the 22nd October 2018.

Established in 2016, the #NationalStartupsDay campaign builds on the success of the past two years; last year, on Twitter the hashtag trended across the UK, generating hundreds of thousands of impressions while top brands, entrepreneurs and organisations gave their support to the campaign through social media engagement.

The event is designed to showcase exciting and innovative start-ups, while connecting start-up founders with advice and materials to help them succeed in business.

Supporters in previous years include the FSB, Dragons’ Den star Jenny Campbell, Margot James, Tech Nation, and Startup Bootcamp, while the message was also spread overseas with the French Embassy and the US economic development administration sharing their support.

All those involved in business, from start-ups to larger businesses with valuable advice for those starting out, are encouraged to get involved with the campaign and spread the word by sharing the hashtag #NationalStartupsDay and #PeoplesChampion on Monday 22 October 2018.

Organisers will be generating awareness of the UK’s most promising and innovative early-stage small businesses by showcasing profiles of over 70 inspiring start-ups in the running for #PeoplesChampion nominations for the Startups Awards 2018.

Readers and start-up peers will get the chance to vote for the companies they deem to be most deserving of the People’s Champion title, with the winner set to be revealed at the Startups Awards 2018 ceremony on Wednesday 21 November.

They will also be sharing a host of dedicated free advice, guides and materials across our social media accounts – on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook – to support start-ups and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs.

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