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Assuring quality in the provision of non-regulated adult services

Report | July 2010

This options framework has been produced by the Institute of Public Care to help commissioners of adult social care and health services in the South West of England identify the most appropriate regulatory processes for providers of services not falling under Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulation. Its aim is not to be prescriptive, but to help authorities develop their own set of resources for identifying the contracting and accreditation processes that best fit local circumstances. The emphasis is on balancing responsibility for the safety of vulnerable service users with avoidance of levels of scrutiny that may prove disproportionately burdensome to smaller provider organisations.

Advocating that any decisions be made in full cooperation with local contracting teams, relevant provider organisations and service user representatives, the document sets out in table form a wide range of possible approaches to regulation, what each entails, and its potential advantages and disadvantages in terms of effectiveness, flexibility and proportionality. Approaches range from CRB checks and accreditation schemes to hands-off signposting, where a service is listed but not endorsed, and provision of website space for user feedback.

A second table cross-references these approaches with the types of service authorities currently commission, marrying up the attributes of the service to the regulatory approach that best fits it.

Finally, key principles for effective contracting with unregulated providers are set out. Considerations include clarity and consistency, realistic time scales for tendering processes and for contract length, and a level playing field across sectors. Each principle is illustrated by specific examples of good practice.

For further information please contact Nic Rattle.