Care standards must be flexible

Turning Point chief executive Victor Adebowale
pinpoints weaknesses in the new care standards.

The new care standards have been welcomed by
many within the voluntary and social care sectors who have long
campaigned for independent and arms-length inspection to ensure
that quality care is delivered to vulnerable people.

No one wants a return to ad-hoc inspection,
shoddy management and sub-standard care. Yet while the ethos of
driving up professionalism is admirable, some of the conditions set
by the National Care Standards Commission as part of the process of
registering care homes are hindering service delivery.

The big question of who will foot the bill for
altering premises and training staff to comply with the standards
remains unanswered. Indeed the government has failed to address the
huge resource implications of the Care Standards Act 2000 as a

But I have a deeper concern regarding the
extent to which care home registration really meets the
requirements of people with multiple and complex needs. Each year
at Turning Point we see 90,000 clients though our community-based
and residential services. Most have a variety of needs that don’t
respond neatly to “off the shelf” support or care packages.
Effective support can only be achieved when a client’s individual
needs are thoroughly assessed and a care package is tailored in

Some of our services provide flexible care and
support backed by grants from Supporting People. Not only has this
given clients more secure short-hold tenancies, but it has allowed
them to directly claim benefits, thereby giving them an independent

Yet because many of our clients require
intense levels of support, which could be deemed intimate personal
care, we are required to register our care homes. Under the new
registration guidelines we will have to cover all expenses relating
to the physical alterations of buildings and training costs, but
lose the flexibility afforded to us through Supporting People. More
importantly, many of our clients will be denied the opportunity to
be supported in a way that truly maximises their independence.

Increasingly, we face a complex situation
where it would be in the clients’ best interests to de-register
care homes if their needs are not being met. Standards need to be
improved, but an equally important principle of social care policy
is flexibility.

Turning Point is a charity that
supports vulnerable people and promotes independence.

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