New government standards in home care may not apply to services
provided in direct payment arrangements or to informal carers.
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 that the loophole
will leave clients vulnerable to abuse.
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.
Director of operations at Crossroads Caring for Carers Debbie
Allen said she was concerned because people using direct payments
were 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 standards, said the group had been lobbied very
strongly not to interfere with the direct payments system. He said
this was an area of concern, and invited organisations to make
comments during the consultation period.
But Liz Silver, housing and independent living officer at
disability charity Radar, said direct payments were supposed to be
“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 care staff.
Dunn added: “All these years we have allowed anyone to work with
people without checks on them. That’s all going to change.”
Key regulations for providers
– Published statements on purpose, and quality assurance.
– Written terms and conditions, and contracts with clients.
– Mandatory staff training and one-to-one supervision, to be
phased in to ease financial burden on providers.
– System for ensuring and evaluating quality service
– Proper records kept of delivery of services, as well as
detailed accounts and health and safety policies.