National care standards will require partnership

National Care Standards Commission chairperson Anne Parker has
sought to reassure care home owners that though her organisation
will be enforcing tighter standards, it was acutely aware it must
not “sink the ship” by being over-zealous.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester last
week she pledged that the commission would, where possible, try and
work with providers to rectify problems rather than act in a
confrontational way.

She added that she was conscious there were high expectations of
what could be achieved. “Somebody said to me ‘you’re going to be
the people who will stop all those awful things happening’.”

Parker explained that the commission’s key role was to “build
capacity, manage catastrophe and achieve credibility”, adding: “We
want to earn the respect and even the grudging admiration of the
people whose services we will be inspecting and regulating.” But
the task in hand could only be achieved in partnership.

Her message was echoed by Chris Hume, a former director of
social services and now programme manager with the Department of
Health’s social care group responsible for establishing the

He said the job to be done should not be underestimated. “It’s a
huge task for the department and in many ways a scary one, setting
out clear expectations in terms of standards.”

He explained that a key function of the new commission would be
collecting data on areas such as falls by residents, pressure sores
through handling by care workers and deaths, so it could respond to
warning signs and concentrate efforts on those areas that most
needed it.

“The aim is not to cause chaos in the care sector. The aim is to
provide minimum standards below which people cannot operate.”

Hume said new standards for foster care, domiciliary care and
adoption agencies were expected by late summer. Standards on
children’s homes and care homes for adults were currently out for

In response to suggestions by some members of the audience that
too much was being asked of them, he replied: “If the sector comes
back with a resounding ‘no this cannot be achieved’ then the DoH
will clearly have to take this into account.”



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