Care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has outlined its priorities for the next 3 years, which include strengthening its focus on mental health, mental capacity and learning disabilities.

In its plan, Raising standards, putting people first – Our Strategy for 2013 to 2016, the CQC commits to strengthening its focus around the Mental Health Act (MHA), Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) to protect people’s human rights, particularly those who have had their freedom restricted by being detained and treated against their will.

The CQC will continue to work with patients under the MHA and will aim to build on its person centred approach to issues such as blanket restrictions, which can affect voluntary patients as well as those formally detained.

In addition, the CQC said it will increase the level of training and guidance on mental capacity that it gives to frontline staff to strengthen the links between its assessment of providers’ practice under the MCA and their performance against the Health and Social Care Act regulations.

The CQC will also develop its ability to monitor local social services in their role as ‘supervisory organisations’ in the DoLS system.

The regulator also plans to involve more people with direct experience of care – experts by experience – in its inspection and MHA visits. The regulator also plans to involve more service users and people currently or previously detained under the MHA in its work.

To increase its understanding of people’s and their families’ experience of DoLS the CQC plans to listen more to community and advocacy organisations.

David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said: “People have a right to expect safe, effective, compassionate, high quality care. CQC plays a vital role in making sure that care services meet those expectations.

“We recognise that quality care cannot be achieved by inspection and regulation alone – that lies with care professionals, clinical staff, providers and those who arrange and fund local services – but we will set a bar below which no provider must fall and a rating which will encourage and drive improvement.

“In developing our plans for the next three years we have looked closely at what we do and listened to what others have told us, to make sure we focus on what matters to them.”
Learning disability charity Mencap has welcomed the CQC’s strategy, especially inclusion of learning from the Winterbourne View scandal and commitment to include more experts by experience.

Simon Parkinson, director of external relations and communities at Mencap, said: “We welcome this ambitious plan to improve standards. Over the next three years it should make a significant difference for people with learning disabilities, and their families, giving them greater confidence in the inspection regime and more awareness of the CQC’s role and work.

“The test of the new plan will be in the contribution it makes to raising the standards of care for people with learning disabilities, and Mencap will continue to engage with CQC to support the strategy in the best interests of people with a learning disability.”