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NICE’s remit expanded to improve standards in UK social care

Guidance to be developed for topics including autism, child maltreatment and medicines management in care homes

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published the first list of topics it will develop guidance for, ahead of the expansion of the body’s remit into social care, which will come into effect in April 2013.

The Institute already develops guidelines in England and Wales for healthcare, including the recommendation of drugs, but, from next year, it will also publish quality standards in such areas as autism and child maltreatment, as part of its new responsibilities outlined in the Health and Social Care Act.

Other areas NICE is to develop guidelines for include mental well-being of older people in residential care; medicines management in care homes; management of physical and mental co-morbidities of older people in community and residential care settings; domiciliary care; and the transition between children and adult services.

In addition, quality standards will also be created to manage the transition between health and social care, as the government attempts to create a more joined-up health service in the country.

“It’s important for health and social care services to work in tandem and the standards we develop will play a vital role in ensuring services are closely aligned to ensure effective, high quality patient care is consistently achieved,” said Dr Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE.

This initial list was based on NICE consultation with the care and support sector on joint NHS/social care standards as well as priority areas for action emerging from the Care and Support White Paper, which set out to introduce greater national consistency in access to care and improve the quality of care.

“NICE’s new quality standards on social care will be a key driver of this,” said Earl Howe, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for quality.

“They will help define what good care and support looks like for commissioners and care providers as well as people using services.”

According to the Department of Health, quality standards in autism and mental wellbeing of older people in residential care will be published in 2013/14 with other quality standards published later.

A full set of NICE quality standards and guidance will also be developed following further consultation with the care and support sector.

A pilot is already in place to trial standards that cover the care of people with dementia and the health and wellbeing of looked after children and young people.

Following a consultation process, NICE is aiming to publish these final Quality Standards in April 2013.

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