Standards commission head spells out new regime to home owners

Some care homes that offer residents a decent
quality of life but fail to meet new standards will not survive,
National Care Standards Commission chairperson Anne Parker made
clear last week.

Responding to a delegate’s question after
giving the annual Graham Lecture in London, Parker said: “The
standards will mean over time that some places will close that may
have been lovely places to live.”

However, she said that the NCSC recognised
that it will not serve users by simply applying the standards as
written and enforcing everything.

“Making homes go out of business, which may be
quite good homes and may have the prospects of actually conforming
in the foreseeable future, is not in the interests of those service
users,” she said.

Parker insisted that where there is risk,
enforcement would be carried out “irrespectively”, but that the
NCSC will not come down too heavily in other circumstances during
the first year.

“Certainly, in year one we’ll only be using
our more draconian enforcement powers when there is a risk to the
health and welfare of service users and probably when that’s linked
with, or sometimes not linked with, a really poor history of
compliance,” she said.

Parker assured a delegate from Action on Elder
Abuse, who expressed concern that too flexible a system allows
providers to escape accountability, that complaints will be
listened to. “We’re not in the business of ignoring complaints and
we will respond firmly and fairly with providers. Good regulation
is not about collusion and cosiness, but about respectful working
relationships,” she said.

While the standards are not negotiable, the
NCSC will let those owners who cannot achieve the standards in the
short term to explain how they can still achieve positive outcomes,
said Parker. Users will have the opportunity to say whether
outcomes are delivered and what they consider to be the shortfalls
in the standards.

She added that debate was necessary to get fee
structures responding so that people were able to lose a bedroom or
make one larger.

The NCSC is currently recruiting 300
inspectors. All inspectors will undergo “conversion training”
between January and March to ensure they understand the new
legislation and requirements.

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