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Care homes and home care providers treating vulnerable and old people without dignity and respect will be put on an ‘unprecedented turn-around programme’, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today in Parliament.
The move comes alongside evidence that a special measures scheme introduced in failing hospitals in the wake of the scandal at Mid Staffs has triggered ‘transformational improvements in services’.
From October, the 25,000 care home and homecare services in England will face a new inspection and rating regime that will ‘shine a light on poor care to drive up standards’.
From April 2015, services rated as inadequate face being put into special measures and given a limited time period to make improvements. If they fail to improve, the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, will be able to close them down.
Andrea Sutcliffe said:
People who are using residential and home care services have the right to expect high quality, safe and compassionate care. I am determined that CQC will shine a spotlight on poor care and make it clear that abuse and neglect is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Of course we want services to improve, but where standards are repeatedly falling short, we will call time on poor care.
The outgoing inspection system only focuses on whether homes are meeting a basic set of standards – meaning the public cannot get a detailed picture of the quality of care.
Ms Sutcliffe said that the new system will look at whether people are getting safe and effective care, tailored to their needs, are being treated with dignity and respect, and are being looked after by skilled, compassionate staff.
Care homes and homecare services will be given a rating based on these measures. These will then be published online, allowing the public to make more informed choices.
In the autumn, the CQC will work with the Department of Health, care providers, service users and their friends and families and commissioners, to develop the details of the new special measures scheme, including how failing providers will get support.
The announcement is Mr Hunt’s latest milestone in his drive to create a more transparent culture across the NHS that listens to and acts on what patients and staff say to improve the safety and compassion of care for patients. A fundamental change in culture is crucial for driving up standards.
There are thousands of care homes and homecare services providing excellent care and this new ratings system will allow people and their families to make clear choices. But there are still too many care homes that I wouldn’t be happy to see my own parents or grandparents in. We have shown the special measures process works and care turn around poor-performing hospitals and we can do the same for adult social care.
The status of the 11 hospitals put into special measures in July 2013 is:
Failing care homes are a serious problem for the industry. Not only are they failing the residents and staff, but reporting of their problems and issues continues to undermine public confidence in the care sector as a whole.
There is concern within the industry however that far from helping care homes in crisis, the scheme will actually result in their demise. A hospital is a huge institution where the beds are filled by over demand and the lack of alternative choice for consumers.
Those seeking a care home have a much greater choice in the local area and it is felt that once a home is branded by the special measure tag, it is unlikely that it will be able to fill it’s beds; Consumers will simply just choose to go elsewhere.
So, even if the home is able to improve to the required level, once it’s reputation has been tarred by being in special measures it’s reputation will have been irreparably damaged within the local community and it will therefore inevitably fail on a purely commercial basis.
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