THE BLOG

Quality Matters - Why We Must Be Vigilant About Care Homes for Older People

14/10/2014 10:21 BST | Updated 14/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Last week the tables were turned; the CQC, the body that puts care home providers under scrutiny, was in the spotlight. In a move to improve care in the UK, they revealed that they will be unveiling a new system of inspecting care homes, with much of the focus falling on guidance for families on installing secret cameras in their relative's bedroom.

The CQC undoubtedly has a big job to do. Many care homes and home care services are simply not good enough and some are poor, neglectful, abusive and dangerous. We know that from reviews posted by families and older people on Good Care Guide. But the Chief Inspector of Social Care has herself confirmed this and in their latest findings, they have found that nine out of 10 care homes and hospitals in England have aspects of care for people with dementia that are variable or poor, making those with the condition likely to receive poor treatment at some point.

Overall, it's good that the CQC has recognised that it needs to do a better job. Its inspections need to be more robust and rigorous and need to take on board the views of older people and their families (not simply leave it to families to spot poor care). And the results of inspections need to be clearly communicated to help families choosing a care home.

So we welcome the new Ofsted-style ratings for care - outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate - which should help families and also focus the minds of poor care providers. They should improve confidence and trust in the CQC.

Of course we mustn't lose sight of what makes for good quality care. It's not about CCTV or secret cameras. It's all about the people - quality staff who are well trained, managed and led, and properly paid. And we need more as well as better staff, to deal with the increasing needs of care home residents.

On a separate but related matter, it's surprising in this context that the government is planning to drop three important requirements from new care home regulations which are being debated in Parliament on Thursday this week.

According to the Relatives and Residents Association, the new proposed regulations leave out three basic requirements in place since the 1990s, while the government implies that they're stronger/tougher. These are:

1. The home is no longer required to tell the resident about the complaints procedures - current Regulation 19(1)(2)

2. The home is no longer required to plan for and have emergency procedures in place - current Regulation 9 (2)

3. The home is no longer required to give the resident a choice of food - current Regulation 14 (2)

These changes would be a backward step. Let's hope given the recent public and media concerns about the quality of residential care that our Parliamentarians will see sense.