Friday 19 October 2018
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Police service or Improving Regulator

CQC has recently decided its role is to act more as a Police service than an improving regulator, which is a great shame for care operators and their residents.

As an insurance broker specialising in care we have to evaluate which are the most significant risks for care homes and which are less significant. Part of this evaluation is to understand the regulator’s report and its requirements.

As part of our risk analysis this regulator’s report is very useful, although it invariably throws up issues about the relationship CQC enjoys, or more frequently doesn’t enjoy, with care providers.

Occasionally we see CQC take a highly authoritarian stance. The word ‘abuse’ seems to have a different definition for CQC and fellow state employees to that of the Oxford English Dictionary, and occasionally a complete over-reaction to a quality care provider working in the best interests of its residents (or clients).

Rather than join the squabble that CQC seem to engender within the care community, I believe we should initially take a view as to what we require of our care regulator, especially a regulator which has been in existence, albeit in different guises, for 12 years.

Surely it is reasonable to expect a regulator who has been operating over such a long period of time to be able to do a reasonable job and have taken the vast majority of bad care providers out of business. If not, then CQC need to consider why it has failed and take steps to address the position.

As a member of the public, facing up to my own mortality and needs in older years, I am positively frightened by everything CQC puts out in the public domain. They would have us all believe our entire population in care is abused and maltreated. If they had done a reasonable job in the 12 years of their existence, this would not be the case.

Our care regulator is funded by care providers who have no choice other than to be a customer. So what I, and I believe society too, want from our care regulator, is a service which restores the faith in the quality of care for the benefit of society. I’m lucky that I do know the good providers; most people are not so fortunate.

Yes, they must remove the bad care providers. But, since they know what bad care looks like, they must also know what good care looks like. This knowledge should be used to develop all care providers to provide good care for the benefit of society.

Incidentally I find it strange that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has within its brief from Government to ensure that the public has high confidence in the financial world and yes, that does include our bankers. Yet the care regulator does not have the same public confidence expectation. Why is this?

It is also crucial that CQC gives greater thought to its services. Firstly, the word abuse must be used in accordance with the Oxford English Dictionary. Who gave Government quangos the right to change the definition of words? Abuse to the vast majority of our society is about cruelty, violence or neglect. So, how does the failure to complete a form correctly – as I have seen on more than one occasion – become described as abuse?

We also need the care regulators to have an arbitration facility. They seem quick to publish reports which are critical of any care provider but rarely issue the corrective report with the same alacrity. This, of course, fits with a view that CQC are providing a service which they believe is for their own benefit, more than for that of society.

Professor Martin Green of Care England has long advocated ACAS being a reasonable arbiter. I have to agree, not so much because I see many care providers taking CQC to arbitration, but it would check CQC and other care regulators are doing the job we all require of them.

There is a general election just over a year away. Let’s get together and let our politicians know how concerned we are that CQC are undermining the public’s confidence in care; ask your local candidates what they will do to improve social care and the perception the public has of social care. Are they brave enough to stand up for the benefit of those in care and their families? Would they make different demands of CQC? If so, how and what would they hope to achieve?

The system of care regulation must be done better and the politicians who created the CQC need to make sure they have a regulator which works for the benefit of those in care, not for their own benefit as it currently appears to me with CQC.

David Waters, Care Home Insurance Services (CHIS)

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