The new system of CQC regulation

Andrea Sutcliffe

Andrea Sutcliffe

Following high profile scandals such as Winterbourne View, inspection in social care has been reviewed; adult social care chief inspector Andrea Sutcliffe even said she would to explore the role such techniques as hidden cameras and mystery shopper exercises could play in uncovering abuse and neglect.

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

There is a sense that improvements will be welcomed: “Confidence in the regulation regime has been shaken, but we have turned a corner” Norman Lamb Care and Support Minister. The new system to be launched this year will see some welcome changes:

1. That services will be given an Ofsted-style rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, reflects the perception in the industry that the “compliant / not compliant” model was inadequate. It certainly didn’t differentiate on degree of service quality, and the evidence suggested that compliance wasn’t a reliable measure. We need to wait and see whether their ‘marking scheme’ is consistent.

2. The new Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections will now cover 5 domains

  • Caring for people safely and protecting them from harm
  • Treating people with respect and involving them in their care
  • Providing care, treatment and support that meets people’s needs
  • Staffing
  • Quality and suitability of management

Presented as a simplification, is seeing these as a replacement for the 16 outcomes misguided and possibly naive? All of the key elements of good care still have to be there, the new system simply categorises them differently.

3. Finally, the make-up of the inspection teams are also being changed to ensure they include experts in the care sector – to date the CQC has relied on general inspectors – and members of the public with first-hand experience of the system. A good move but needs to be backed up with appropriate training in marking and bench-marking.

CQC aim to inspect each of the 25,000 care homes, nursing homes and domiciliary care agencies by March 2016, issuing warning notices, fines and even closing down services if they are failing.

For the beleaguered care provider, one thing is certain: CQC are increasingly looking for robust evidence of performance and good metrics against which improvements can be measured. So having appropriate systems to solicit opinions and feedback and to present their findings is increasingly important, witnessed by the creeping growth in businesses providing these services.

Certainly, services such as Care2Improve can give Care Providers some welcome benefits in that they offer independence and also by outsourcing, the provider gets the benefit of specialist skills whilst releasing time back into the business of care. Care2Improve have already realigned the survey questions so that reports reflect the new domains

Secret filming by Panorama in 2011 exposed abuse at Winterbourne View even though they weren’t assessed as non compliant.