NICE and social care
Developing guidance and standards for social care
NICE has a new responsibility, from April 2013, to develop guidance and quality standards for social care in England. This provides an opportunity to apply an evidence-based system to decision-making in the social care sector, similar to that provided for the NHS. It will also allow us to produce guidance that promotes better integration between health, public health and social care services. Our guidance will be developed in close partnership with, rather than imposed upon, service users and carers, practitioners and organisations working in social care.
We know that the approach we take in social care needs to be different; people using the social care system and the workforce providing those services have different priorities and needs. So we have been careful to ensure that our methods and processes have been developed in close collaboration with the adults and childrens care sectors.
This manual explains how we develop social care guidance.
Social care guidance topics
In addition to the social care quality standards already published, NICE is currently developing or planning to develop guidance and quality standards with a particular focus on social care on the topics below:
Topics for quality standard development
Topics for guidance and quality standard development
- Challenging behaviour in people with learning disability
- Child abuse and neglect
- Children´s attachment
- Home care
- Managing medicines in care homes
- Mental health problems in people with learning disability
- Older people with long-term conditions
- Transition between health and social care
- Transition from children´s to adults´ services
In February 2013 the Department of Health opened a consultation seeking views on topics for NICE to produce quality standards and guidance on in the future to help improve the quality of social care and the interface with health services. The consultation closes on 3 May 2013.
NICE held a workshop in December 2011 to review existing methodologies and processes for developing guidance for social care and to discuss possible methodological adaptations and developments. A report outlining discussions from this workshop is available.
Register as a stakeholder for social care guidance and quality standards
We encourage organisations to register as stakeholders for the development of NICE social care guidance and quality standards. Registering as a stakeholder means that you will receive notification of topics under development, and be able to comment on draft guidance and quality standards when they are put out for consultation.
Social care quality standards pilot programme
In 2011 the Department of Health asked NICE to run a pilot programme for developing social care quality standards focusing on two topics, dementia and looked after children. The pilot tested draft methods and processes, explored the format and presentation of the quality standards in social care settings, and helped us in developing our approach to integrating related health and social care standards.
NICE social care standards and the quality landscape
NICE social care guidance and quality standards are not mandatory; they are intended for use in conjunction with the frameworks and regulation already in place, providing practical support to help drive up the quality of adult and children's care. This briefing, produced with the Department of Health and Department for Education, explains how NICE quality standards fit into the existing regulatory frameworks, such as the Care Quality Commission's Essential Standards amd the Department for Education's National Minimum Standards.
NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care
We have set up the NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care, which will use NICE's methods and processes to develop social care guidance. NICE will then use these as a basis for its quality standards for social care. The NCCSC will also provide NICE with support for adoption and dissemination of social care guidance and quality standards. In December we awarded a three year contract for the NCCSC to the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and its partners:
- Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre) which is part of the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education, University of London
- Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Kent
- Research in Practice (RIP)
- Research in Practice for Adults (RIPfA).
External Reference Group
The Social Care External Reference Group was established in April 2012 to engage with key stakeholders and to gain advice from the sector on adoption and dissemination strategies for quality standards for social care. It was expanded and renamed as the NICE Social Care External Network in September 2013.
The purpose of the Network is to provide advice to NICE on the needs, and expectations of the social care sector and to advise how NICE can effectively present and disseminate its guidance and quality standards ensuring effective use and adoption in practice. The Network also provides advice on integration of social care guidance and quality standards into sector-led improvement and other quality initiatives.
NICE's Citizens Council is a panel of 30 members of the public that provides a public perspective on the moral and ethical issues that NICE has to take into account when producing guidance. In January 2013 it met to discuss the aspects of benefit, cost and need that NICE should consider when producing social care guidance. The Council was asked to consider questions such as 'what does a good social care service look like?', and 'what are the values that should be reflected in social care services?'.
The Council concluded:
- 'Benefit' should be seen in terms of the ability that someone has to be as independent as possible, and part of a community
- Guidance and standards should take carers into account and ensure they are supported in the vital job they do
- The concept of 'need' in social care is different to need in healthcare where need is often determined by a health professional - in social care need is determined and defined by the service user, and is much broader
- As need varies from person to person, more research should be carried out into how need is measured, to better inform what services to provide
- The value of unpaid carers should be included in cost-effectiveness calculations
- NICE's existing methods for assessing the costs of healthcare intervention are not sufficient for social care because there are more differences than similarities between the two areas. They felt that new methods and processes should be developed for this new area of work.
The Council's final report will inform the work of NICE's independent advisory committees. Before then, we would like to hear your views. The draft report is available for public comment until 19 April. The Council will then submit its report to the Board of NICE setting out its findings.
If you have any queries on the social care programme at NICE, please contact us
This page was last updated: 27 November 2013