Still to make the grade

When care homes are inspected they are graded on their performance
from one at worst to four at best. As the first anniversary of the
care standards organisations in England, Scotland and Wales
approaches, we waver between awarding the controversial threesome a
grade two and a grade three.

After a shaky start the new inspection organisations have achieved
a great deal while grappling with immense workloads. In England,
for example, the National Care Standards Commission has had to
register and inspect 40,000 care services. Well over four-fifths of
the initial inspections were complete at the beginning of the year
and the remainder was expected to be done by the end of the month.

But weaknesses remain, with the possible exception of Wales where
the mood is upbeat. Care providers continue to detect
inconsistencies between inspections and even an atmosphere of
conspiracy as the commissions seek to prove their worth. And the
inspectors themselves continue to criticise heavy workloads and
bureaucratic systems. There is still much to do before the
Commission for Social Care Inspection takes over next year.

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