Care Standards Act threatens users’ independence, claim charities

The care standards introduced last month could
undermine the learning difficulties white paper Valuing
and reduce the flexibility of services, the sector has

Campaigners and service providers are
concerned that the implementation of the Care Standards Act 2000
will lead to more establishments being registered as care homes
rather than pursuing supported living arrangements.

Charity for vulnerable people Turning Point
told Community Care that this would reduce the
independence of people with learning difficulties as people living
in care homes were not entitled to transitional housing benefit or
the Supporting People grant due to be introduced in April 2003.

Draft guidance to the act states that
establishments providing accommodation together with nursing or
personal care must be registered as care homes, and must therefore
comply with the national standards. Separate provision of
accommodation and care by different companies will not necessarily
mean that an establishment is not a care home.

“It is not possible to say categorically that,
if a place describes itself as providing very sheltered housing or
extra care, then it will not be registrable as a care home,” the
guidance says.

Equally, if someone is receiving personal care
as a tenant, whether they are considered to be living in their “own
home” and not a care home would depend on indicators such as their
ability to deny entry to others and to choose who provides their
care, the guidance says.

Sue Noakes, development manager for Turning
Point’s northern directorate, said unregistered schemes were needed
in order to implement Valuing People, insisting that the
care standards were “against the principles” of the white

She said that if homes were unregistered,
users would have their own income “where you can really fit the
service around the individual. But the minute it goes over to
registered, all these things get cut off.”

Ken Simons, senior research fellow at the
Norah Fry Centre, predicted that implementing the act would force
people who had taken short cuts to gain access to benefits by
de-registering as care homes to either re-register or ensure they
met the requirements of Supporting People.

“If they are going to be something that’s not
a residential home, it will need to be demonstrably their own
homes. This should make services better,” Simons said.

Rob Greig, the government’s director of
learning difficulty implementation, acknowledged that there were
concerns about the standards, but insisted they had the potential
to be more person-centred than the previous approach. “I am
confident that the impact of the care standards on learning
difficulty services will be overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

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