The Association of Care Managers (ACM) has repeatedly told the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that it has serious concerns about the regulation and inspection of care homes.
CQC has failed to heed warnings that their failure to inspect care homes and their reliance on computer based risk profiles and reporting from care homes themselves has been ignorant, stupid and dangerous.
ACM has repeatedly advised CQC that good care homes welcome regular inspection (as long as the inspectors understand what care homes are for and how they work), and that poor care homes need the constant vigilance of sensible inspection until they improve.
ACM (and many other social care organisations and providers) regard CQC as unfit for purpose. The repeated public exposure of CQC’s failings has at last persuaded them to admit that care homes need inspecting at least once a year, but CQC now has neither the personnel nor expertise to carry out such inspections. We also call on CQC to stop gagging employees and ex-employees who would otherwise blow the whistle on the incompetence and bullying that characterises CQC management.
Do residents of care homes have to wait for the report of the public inquiry into the management failings at Mid Staffs Foundation Trust to show how CQC has gagged witnesses and scrapped investigations, and how the Chief Executive of the Strategic Health Authority (now CEO of CQC) responsible for the hospital repeatedly missed or ignored warning signs of appalling standards of care.
CQC’s failure puts thousands of people’s care and welfare at risk. The current board and management of CQC have stubbornly ignored warnings and refuse to admit their failings. The Government must now take action.
The Association of Care Managers calls for a new approach to regulation and inspection of adult social care:
Prioritise the quality of care and the rights and safety of the people who use the services – this is the primary purpose of inspection
Inspect services as often as necessary but at least once a year
Inspectors should aim to prevent bad practice rather than to condemn it after it has occurred and after residents have suffered
Inspectors should be locally based and known – and accessible - to the public and users of the services
Inspection reports should be written for the public
Inspectors should work directly with residents and relatives, staff and managers of individual homes, NOT with the provider groups and organisations
Inspectors should respond to and investigate complaints, and be willing and available to visit the service without notice and at any time
Inspectors should understand how the services work and be willing and able (when appropriate) to help services to improve
People who use services should have a formal and influential voice in the assessment of care.
We believe all of this can be achieved without increasing inspection fees. However, it will mean a total reorganisation of the CQC, dismantling the centralised bureaucracy and grandiose management structure, and setting up local Healthwatch inspection teams employing independent inspectors who will be judged by - and paid by - results.
ACM supports the effective inspection of care services, concentrating on the rights, safety and wellbeing of those who use the services.
John Burton, Head of the Association of Care Managers