Failing care services to be put in special measures

Model to improve failing NHS trusts will be extended to social care

Care home
Image Source/Rex Features

Failing care services will be tackled through the same special measures used to improve poor-performing hospitals, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today.

The system of special measures, introduced in 11 NHS Trusts following the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal, will now be extended to care homes and home care agencies.

The scheme will cover 25,000 services and is expected to be rolled out from April next year, following the introduction of a new social care ratings system this Autumn.

The Care Quality Commission’s new ratings system will give health and social care services a rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, in order to highlight where improvements are needed.

Any services rated as inadequate face being put into special measures and given a limited time to make improvements. If they fail to improve, the CQC will be able to close them down.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “I am clear that abuse, neglect and poor care will not be tolerated. We need to shine a spotlight on this poor practice and make sure that services improve. If they do not, they will have to face the consequences.”

The model of special measures currently used in the NHS gives health regulators five types of action to take to improve a failing hospital, including partnership with an underperforming trust and the appointment of an improvement director.

Five of the 11 hospitals have come out or are coming out of special measures and all have made progress.

The CQC will now work in partnership with the Department of Health, social care providers and service users and their families to develop the details of a similar regime for care services.

Many social care providers have welcomed the extension of special measures to failing care homes but some have expressed concerns that the system should be used as rarely as possible.

Sheila Scott OBE at the National Care Association said: “We at National Care Association hope that this will be an arrangement that is rarely used but as an organisation that represents responsible care providers, we believe that in certain circumstances, special measures will focus attention on rapid improvement.”

Stephen Burke, director of online ratings service GoodCareGuide.co.uk, added: “We need more resources, good managers and well trained staff in care homes. Putting a care home into special measures should be the last resort. The CQC needs to heed the early warning signs from older people and their families.”

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One Response to Failing care services to be put in special measures

  1. Sukbinder Gill July 17, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    National Care regulator stepping up to the plate

    All of us who are involved in adult safeguarding and especially large scale multi-agency enquiries/investigations into systemic care provider failure, will emphatically welcome the pronouncement by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that care homes and domiciliary care services will be put on a special measures initiative by the national regulator, when there are significant concerns raised in regard to the safety and adequacy of care provided by care homes or home care agencies.
    The fact the special measures will be of comparable worth to those measures currently applied by the Care Quality Commission to hospital trust, will enable there to be a parity between the standard and the level of care and treatment an individual should receive irrespective of whether they are a inpatient, a resident in a care home, or a recipient of home care.
    Furthermore the universal application of special measures by CQC will mitigate against the risk of avoidable and unnecessary harm to those individual receiving care and treatment in registered care settings. There should never be a two tier regulatory inspection regime between hospitals and other registered care providers.
    It is heartening to hear the news that most of the hospital trusts that were put into special measures a year ago have shown significant improvements.
    Hopefully we will see a similar improvement in service provision provided by care homes and home care agencies. Local authorities and their key partner constituents all know how much time, effort and resources, are required to conduct complex large scale investigations as part of their respective adult safeguarding multi-agency obligations. We look forward to the national regulator stepping up to the plate with a more robust national framework to ensure the safety and well-being of anyone receiving registered health and care provision.

    It is my contention that the greater the sanctions applied by the external regulators to registered service provider who are providing substandard care provision, the less likely we are to have a repeat of institutional failure on the scale of Winterbourne or Mid Staffordshire hospital.