The government is to explore ways to reduce red tape in adult residential care after a review found the burden of duplicated paperwork is diverting staff from caring for residents.
The Cutting Red Tape review asked more than 200 care providers about the scale of red tape they faced.
Providers told the review that the time spent on form filling was disproportionate and that there was unnecessary duplication of council contract monitoring requirements with Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection requirements.
Care homes also criticised the inconsistency in local authority and clinical commissioning group (CCG) requirements and expressed confusion about what the roles and responsibilities of CCGs were in relation to residential care are.
Providers also called for more coordination between local authorities, CCGs and the CQC on monitoring and inspections.
Cutting the burden
The Department of Health’s response to the review accepted its findings and said the government now intended to take steps to address the administrative burden.
The DH pledged to issue residential care providers with a statement clarifying the roles of different public agencies within the next two months.
Over the longer term, the government also intends to examine whether the “primary authority” approach could help standardise local authority monitoring of the sector.
Primary authorities involve legal partnerships between businesses and a single local authority – the primary authority – where companies follow the advice of that council and the regulatory activity of other local authorities is guided by the primary authority.
The DH also said it would also consider how to simplify data requests and returns and how public agencies could conduct combined inspections or use one another’s findings in their own work.
Martin Green, the chief executive of providers’ association Care England, said: “An effective regulatory and monitoring system is vital and recognises and rewards good care, but at the heart of this must be a balance that allows staff to do their jobs and build up caring and respectful relationships with residents.
“Many local authorities and CCGs, who all purchase care from the same homes, must align their contracts and monitoring activity.
“We want to see action from the government and statutory agencies to work with providers on tackling duplication and unnecessary paperwork to ensure we do not lose sight of our primary reason for doing the work we do – to care for the person.”
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “We have set out proposals to streamline the way we collect and share information about services and our desire to agree a shared view of quality.
“We are sure life will be so much easier for the public and providers if everyone, including providers and commissioners, looked at quality in the same way.”
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: “Councils work closely with providers and regulators to ensure the most efficient system which strikes a balance between the need to protect residents while minimising burdens on businesses as much as possible.
“We will take on board the findings of this report and how any lessons in best practice can be learnt.”
The DH intends to publish a review on progress in responding to the review within six months.