Ofsted-style care home ratings tough to implement, directors warn

Directors of adults' services have identified a number of 'clear challenges' in Jeremy Hunt's plans to introduce a new ratings system for care homes

Government proposals to introduce an Ofsted-style ratings system for care homes could prove difficult to implement, adults’ services directors are warning.

The health secretary’s plans, due to be announced today, would see the Care Quality Commission rate homes in the same way Ofsted grades schools and children’s services, awarding ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘adequate’ or ‘inadequate’ ratings. Under the current system, homes only have to meet minimum standards of care.

The Association of Directors of Adults’ Services said directors welcome attempts to promote improvements in the quality of care and make better information available to the public, but are concerned about a number of “clear challenges”.

“Different people have very different priorities and expectations when it comes to assessing how well a care home or domiciliary care agency is performing,” said ADASS president Sarah Pickup.

“ADASS members will hope that dignity and compassion will be as much a part of any assessment as the accuracy of records and the timeliness and practical and professional skills with which particular interventions are delivered,” she said.

New duties and responsibilities should be fully and transparently funded, Pickup added, warning extra burdens have too often been, “loaded onto the shoulders of statutory bodies – including councils – without any care taken to ensure they have the capacity to fulfil them”.

Jeremy Hunt’s proposals should draw on existing information, Pickup said, as well as the views of people who use services, and the knowledge of a range of agencies, including local authorities.

“This will help avoid significant additional burdens and diversions of resources from actual service improvement to performance management or servicing inspections,” Pickup said.

“There are clearly challenges associated with rating care services, but ADASS stands ready to contribute to the review and play its part in any system that emerges in the future,” she added.

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