Adapting the adult social care outcomes toolkit (ASCOT) for use in care home quality monitoring: conceptual development and testing

Towers AM, Holder J, Smith N, Crowther T, Netten A, Welch E, Collins G

BMC Health Services Research 2015, 15, 1: 304

Available online 4 Aug 2015

Abstract

Background
Alongside an increased policy and practice emphasis on outcomes in social care, English local authorities are now obliged to review quality at a service level to help in their new role of ensuring the development of diverse and high-quality care markets to meet the needs of all local people, including self-funders. The Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit (ASCOT) has been developed to measure the outcomes of social care for individuals in a variety of care settings. Local authorities have expressed an interest in exploring how the toolkit might be used for their own purposes, including quality monitoring. This study aimed to explore how the care homes version of the ASCOT toolkit might be adapted for use as a care home quality indicator and carry out some preliminary testing in two care homes for older adults.

Methods
Consultations were carried out with professional and lay stakeholders, with an interest in using the tool or the ratings it would produce. These explored demand and potential uses for the measure and fed into the conceptual development. A draft toolkit and method for collecting the data was developed and the feasibility of using it for quality monitoring was tested with one local authority quality monitoring team in two homes for older adults.

Results
Stakeholders expressed an interest in care home quality ratings based on residents’ outcomes but there were tensions around who might collect the data and how it might be shared. Feasibility testing suggested the measure had potential for use in quality monitoring but highlighted the importance of training in observational techniques and interviewing skills. The quality monitoring officers involved in the piloting recommended that relatives’ views be collected in advance of visits, through surveys not interviews.

Conclusions
Following interest from another local authority, a larger evaluation of the measure for use in routine quality monitoring is planned. As part of this, the ratings made using this measure will be validated against the outcomes of individual residents and compared with the quality ratings of the regulator, the Care Quality Commission.