Ratings for all care homes and more use of ‘experts by experience’ in inspections are part of the “fresh start” for the regulation of adult social care services, the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) new chief inspector of adult social care services has said.
Andrea Sutcliffe has outlined her priorities for transforming how the CQC will monitor, inspect and regulate care homes and other adult social care services, with a greater focus on public involvement and improvement.
Key proposals include awarding ratings to every care home and adult social care service by March 2016 to help people make informed decisions about their care and establishing expert inspection teams involving people who have experience of care services.
Inspections of adult social care services will be structured around five key questions: are the services safe, caring, effective, well-led and responsive to people’s needs.
The chief inspector’s plans and priorities are set out in A Fresh Start for the Regulation and Inspection of Adult Social Care, ahead of a full public consultation in spring 2014.
Priorities for CQC
The CQC intends to rate care services as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, so the public has clear information about services. As part of these changes, CQC will explore how its ratings can encourage services to improve and how they can influence the timing of future inspections.
Other plans and priorities in A Fresh Start… include:
• From April 2015, and subject to the Care Bill becoming law, CQC will monitor the finances of an estimated 50-60 care providers that would be difficult to replace if they were to go out of business
• CQC will take a tougher stance when registering care services by ensuring that those who apply to run them have the right values, motives, ability and experience. Also, CQC is committed to taking tougher action against services that do not have registered managers in place
• CQC will discuss the risks and potential benefits of mystery shoppers and hidden cameras to monitor care, and whether they could contribute to promoting a culture of safety and quality, while respecting people’s privacy and dignity
• CQC will encourage residential care providers to explore how they can be involved in the local community and will work with Healthwatch to get its views on care homes locally.
The CQC plans discuss and explore these proposals with the public, service users and their carers, care providers, CQC staff, and organisations with an interest in its work, ahead of its public consultation in spring 2014.
“This is a fresh start for how care homes, home care, and other adult social care services are inspected and regulated across the country,” said Sutcliffe. “I will be leading CQC’s new approach by making more use of people’s views and by using expert inspection teams involving people who have personal experience of care.
“We will always be on the side of the people who use care services. For every care service we look at, I want us to ask, is this good enough for my Mum? If it is, this should be celebrated. If not, then as the regulator, we will do something about it.
“Adult social care is the largest and fastest growing sector that CQC regulates and so it is imperative that we get it right.
“A Fresh Start sets out my initial priorities so that we can build confidence in CQC’s role and support our staff to deliver. I am looking forward to working with everyone in this vitally important area as we develop our approach in the coming months.”
Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister, said: “No one should have to put up with substandard care - there are serious flaws in the system when people are worrying about the quality of care their loved ones are receiving. We have made it clear that there must be a sharper focus on taking tougher action when things go wrong and holding those responsible to account.
“Confidence in the regulation regime has been shaken, but we have turned a corner. I welcome the Chief Inspector’s new commitment to protecting people vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and to delivering better care."
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of the English Community Care Association, said: “The appointment of a chief inspector for adult social care is a positive step and the development of a new approach to how CQC will regulate and inspect care services, offers an opportunity to ensure that high quality regulation is the foundation of good quality care.”
Sandie Keene, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, added: “Providing the public with a reliable means of assessing the quality of the experience they can expect to have, when arranging their care, is a fundamental part of the new duties and responsibilities our sector is taking on. ADASS very much welcomes this initiative.”
But Steve Sollars, the parent of a former resident at Winterbourne View, told the BBC he was worried by the pace of change.
"It's too slow to what's happening," he said. "Winterbourne View happened two-and-a-half to three years ago. Things should be happening now."