New care home standards prompt concern

New government standards in home care will not apply to services
provided in direct payment arrangements or to informal carers,
writes Gideon Burrows.

The new regulations on the provision of care in people’s
own homes are expected to be published for final consultation late
next month, and implemented from April next year as part of the
rolling out of the Care Standards Act 2000.

But draft standards outlined at a Help the Aged conference last
week, have been criticised because services provided on a direct
payments basis and services provided informally by voluntary carers
will be exempt from regulation. Campaigners are worried the
loophole will leave clients vulnerable to abuse.

Debbie Allen, director of operations at Crossroads Caring for
Carers, said she was concerned because people using direct payments
were particularly vulnerable as they’re often not linked into
any support networks.

“They might not know all they could about what might go wrong,”
she said.

Peter Dunn from the department of health social care group,
which drew up the new standards, said the group had been lobbied
very strongly not to interfere with the direct payments system. He
admitted it was a worry, and invited organisations to use the
consultation period to make comments.

But Liz Silver, housing and independent living officer at
disability charity Radar, said direct payments are supposed to be
about autonomy.

“To say to a disabled person, who is doing the recruitment and
selection, that support was to be at a particular level would be to
take the control away from the disabled person,” she said.

Tessa Harding, head of policy at Help the Aged, called for a
proper support system for people using direct payments, “not to
monitor quality but to take up any problems if they arise”.

Home care regulations will apply to service providers across the
public, private and voluntary sectors. All providers will have to
register with the National Care Standards Commission and will be
inspected annually. They will have to keep detailed records of care
services provided and implement structured training and supervision
for staff.

“All these years we have allowed anyone to work with people
without any checks on them. That’s all going to change,” said

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