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Two cheers for CQC

I have at last found something to congratulate CQC on!” says John Burton, Head of The Association of Care Managers (ACM), “A proper inspection which concentrated on what really matters - the care of residents. The inspectors went into the home in the early morning and returned a fortnight later at night, and the report tells us what they actually saw happening - or not happening - and why what they saw failed to meet the standards.”

“Great! BUT! . . . It seems that this inspection was as a result of other agencies picking up that something was badly wrong, and CQC were not able to respond quickly enough. The report emerged two months after the inspection. Prior to this report, visitors to the CQC website would have seen that this was a ‘good’ (2-star) home, and it clearly wasn’t and hadn’t been for some time.”

“Looking back at previous CSCI reports which, in contrast to the CQC report, concentrate on paperwork and procedures, it seems that the inspectors upgraded the home as part of the CSCI ‘haven’t we done well?’ publicity drive.”

“Good care home managers want proper inspection, not computer-marked tests of their ability to fill in forms correctly. And proper inspection concentrates on what’s actually happening for residents. The more time a manager has to spend satisfying the appetite of CQC’s computers, the less time they will have for people - the residents, relatives and staff. Managers must lead from the front and on “the floor”. The less time managers spend with people, the more impersonal and procedural the care will become, and in the absence of real inspection, the more likely that assiduous form-filling alone will convince the regulator that all is well.”

“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
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
Email: kate@hawkerpublications.com

John Burton, Head of the Association of Care Managers
February 2011