While Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS proposes the strengthening of the CQC, it will be a very different organisation from the one we have now. Healthwatch holds the key to the future of care home inspection.
Healthwatch England will be established by 2012 as part of CQC, and local Healthwatch will replace and expand on the role of LINKs
Although it concentrates almost exclusively on health services, the White Paper contains some messages of hope for those of us who want a return to effective (care home) inspection practice.
Establishing local Healthwatch organisations by 2012 provides the possibility of regular local inspection, reviving an effective complaints system tied into inspection, and the formal involvement of residents and relatives.
I cannot believe that CQC will be allowed to remain bogged down in senseless bureaucracy says John Burton, head of ACM. The re-registration of care homes is totally unnecessary and is causing havoc amongst providers. Inspectors have no time to inspect and residents are left paying for a service they dont receive. ACM supports effective inspection that is locally based and geared to the wellbeing and safety of care home residents.
Burton continues: I do note the paragraph in the White Paper which resolves that the government will not tolerate another Mid-Staffordshire experience where patient and staff concerns were continually overlooked while systemic failure in the quality of care went unchecked. Well, I can't see how the same management that failed so tragically in Mid-Staffordshire can remain in charge of CQC. A totally different approach is needed.
The Association of Care Managers calls for a new approach to regulation and inspection of adult social care:
1. Prioritise the quality of care and the rights and safety of the people who use the services Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ this is the primary purpose of inspection
2. Inspect services as often as necessary but at least once a year
3. Inspectors should aim to prevent bad practice rather than to condemn it after it has occurred and after residents have suffered
4. Inspectors should be locally based and known Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ and accessible - to the public and users of the services
5. Inspection reports should be written for the public
6. Inspectors should work directly with residents and relatives, staff and managers, NOT with the provider groups and organisations
7. Inspectors should respond to and investigate complaints, and be willing and available to visit the service without notice and at any time
8. Inspectors should understand how the services work and be willing and able (when appropriate) to help services to improve
9. 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 CQC, dismantling the centralised bureaucracy and grandiose management structure, and setting up local 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