he media are beginning to sniff the foul air emanating from CQC. Radio, TV and the national press are joining the hunt. Something is wrong but journalists are confused as to exactly what is the problem. Is this pong just the everyday flatulence of a bloated quango or is it the stink of putrefaction?
“In the last few days I’ve been contacted by several journalists working on CQC stories” says John Burton, Head of the Association of Care Managers (ACM). “None of them understands what is going on at CQC, and why should they? While trying to clarify the inspection and regulation system for journalists, I’ve appreciated just how confusing and useless CQC is for anyone who needs information on care homes. For all its big-headed bluster, CQC appears not to do anything very much at all.”
Journalists’ first source of information should be the CQC website but looking at that will raise many questions and answer very few:
Why does the CQC website still say that care homes (or rather “providers”) are registered or in the final stages of being registered? Don’t they know which?
Why are reports available for some homes and not others?
Why are the latest reports for some homes well over three years old?
Why are some excellent homes rated as adequate and some poor homes rated as excellent, and some homes not rated at all?
Why are some homes listed under new names and all previous reports deleted?
Why can’t you complain to CQC about a care service?
Why is CQC busy “currently designing a new system to assess the quality of services” and “currently developing” a new measure of excellence but not “currently inspecting” care homes?
And why does CQC think that adding words like “currently” increases its credibility? Indeed, CQC has its very own definitions of words such as “random” which in the CQC dictionary means “focussed” and in my dictionary means “haphazard; without aim or purpose”.
Remember, for people looking for a care home the CQC website should be clear, reliable and informative, not a confusing hotchpotch of “random”, inconsistent, incomplete and often inaccurate gobbledegook. Is this what residents of care homes are each paying over £100 a year for? This is a tax of £50m a year levied on care home residents in return for nothing. CQC’s chief executive earns £200,000 a year. Fair? Effective? Value for money? NO! NO! NO!
“Good care home managers want to have good care verified and confirmed by independent outsiders who are trusted by the public. The reputation of CQC could not be lower. This is not good for residents of care homes.”
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 just as it is the primary task of care home managers
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 or passing new legislation. 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.
For more information about ACM, please contact
Kate Hawkins, Hawker Publications Ltd. Culvert House,
Culvert Road, London SW11 5DH
Tel: 020 7720 2108 ext 201
Fax: 020 7498 3023
John Burton, Head of the Association of Care Managers