Called the Care Association Alliance, members believe it will be better placed to represent the needs of its members than existing national bodies.
But Debbie Le Quesne, the Chief Executive of the West Midlands Care Association, who will co-chair the organisation with Erica Lockhart from Surrey Care Association, is keen to point out that the new group will continue to support and work alongside existing industry umbrella bodies.
These will include Care England, the result of a merger rebranding last year of the National Care Association and the English Community Care Association, and the National Care Forum.
Ms Le Quesne said: “We have good relationships with Professor Martin Green of Care England, Sheila Scott at the NCA and Des Kelly from National Care Forum and there is no agenda to change those working partnerships.
“We do believe, however, that the Care Association Alliance will represent in a more defined and robust way the issues that are perpetually raised at regional and local meetings by Care providers.”
Ms Le Quesne added: “We wish to gain close engagement with national regulators such as CQC, Health and Safety Executive and representative organisations such as ADASS and the LGA to provide comment and develop discussion about issues that directly affect the providers we represent”.
“We believe we are best placed to provide this brokerage platform since our constituent associations directly represent providers at the sharp end of care delivery, particularly the smaller groups and individual independent care services. The national representative organisations often operate at arm’s length from the providers they represent and as such, we believe, do not maintain an intimate understanding of the impact of strategic policy and regulation on the front line.”
Said Mrs Lockhart: “The associations have been working together for some time to support new collaborations between them, share best practice and to plan campaigns. Originally we did not want to set up another national representative body and were keen to join with one of the other established national organisations. But as time has passed we became more aware that our objectives differ to the extent that a separate representative body was necessary.”
Membership has already come from 41 local associations and more are expected to sign up at the Alliance’s next meeting on October 9.
Roger Wharton, Executive Officer from Somerset commented: “The Alliance came about after regional and local associations pooled resources in 2010 to analyse geographical discrepancies regarding the critical issues of fees and safeguarding.
“Since that time the local associations have been in regular talks with lawyers on the use of Judicial Reviews, what practical lessons could be drawn from outcomes, how best not to encourage more court actions and to work constructively with local authorities.
Ms Le Quesne concluded: “We remain focused on helping members deliver excellence in care. We will support each other through sharing best practice and intelligence. What will change dramatically now. However, is that our previously often-fragmented voices as smaller representative groups will establish a much louder, credible one to be heard by our key industry decision-makers.”