The Department of Health is to review inspection and standards for
care homes and has promised that future legislation will aim to
reduce bureaucracy for the better providers.
Making the announcement at last week’s National Care Homes
Association conference in Norwich, community care minister Stephen
Ladyman said he wanted to revise the system so that: it worked in
the best interests of service users; provided greater clarity for
inspectors, providers and users; and enabled the Commission for
Social Care Inspection to focus more on less adequate providers.
The review covers the national minimum standards for care homes
enshrined in the Care Standards Act 2002 and will involve the CSCI
and care home owners. The government had promised to revisit the
standards three years after their introduction, but Ladyman said
the review would start immediately with the aim of implementing
changes by 2006.
He added that he wanted to see a new regulatory framework “which
avoids unnecessary burdens on good quality services providers”.
“More thought needs to be given to quality services and how to
delineate high quality care homes from those that barely meet the
standards. Inspection needs to be targeted where improvement is
needed, while still reassuring people on safety,” he said.
NCHA chair Nadra Ahmed welcomed the review’s focus on quality.
“With 247 separate standards plus the care home regulations to
comply with, many home owners are buried in paperwork instead of
concentrating on good quality care.”
At the conference, Ladyman warned that charges for fast-track
Protection of Vulnerable Adults checks could be brought in sooner
than planned if providers continue to use them wrongly. Known as
Pova First, they enable staff to start working within a few days of
accepting a job but are only meant to be requested in exceptional
“Most of you seem to be applying for a Pova First on every
occasion,” Ladyman said. “I don’t want to introduce the extra
charge until we’ve got the system working within our target, but if
everyone keeps using it routinely I might have to.”
He also said up to 70 per cent of Pova First forms had been filled