Government’s ‘special measures’ plan wins support

The system of special measures designed to improve failing hospitals in England is to be extended to care homes. And generally it has gained wide support.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the scheme would be introduced for care homes and home-care agencies next year. It will cover 25,000 services and could lead to the closure of those that fail to improve.

The details of the regime for care homes are still being worked out, but are likely to involve less external support and instead rely on shorter deadlines to shock the providers into action. The scoring, based on a system first used in schools, gives health and care services a rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

Andrea Sutcliffe, the Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “In people’s homes and care homes across the country, we know that dedicated staff are delivering fantastic care for people. Sadly, this is not always the case and we know that some services are continuing to fail the people they serve.

“I am clear that abuse, neglect and poor care will not be tolerated. We need to shine a spotlight on this poor practice and make sure that services improve. If they do not, they will have to face the consequences.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with service providers, commissioners and most importantly people using services, their carers and families to develop a special measures regime which will call time on poor care.

“Our new ratings regime will start in October and will highlight inadequate services. This will be an unambiguous signal that improvements are needed and we will set out clear expectations, including the timescale to sort out problems and where to go for help.

“People’s confidence in adult social care services has been knocked by shocking examples of poor care. I want to restore confidence by celebrating the good work we do see while also tackling persistent poor performance.

“Together, we can make sure these services are the best they can be for the benefit of everyone who needs them.”

Professor Martin Green, chief executive at Care England, said: “Care England welcomes the fact that the Care Quality Commission's new special measures regime for failing services is being developed jointly with the care sector.

“It is our hope that this regime will give new clarity and consistency in how failing services will be challenged to improve, and clearly define the process and timescales on when they will be removed from the market.”

Sheila Scott from National Care Association said: “We hope that this will be an arrangement that is rarely used but as an organisation that represents responsible care providers, we believe that in certain circumstances, special measures will focus attention on rapid improvement.

“National Care Association represents small and medium sized businesses so it will be important for us to look closely at the detail of the proposals to make sure that the proposals recognise the challenges that can often face small business.”

George McNamara, head of policy and public affairs at Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘We want to see improvements across all health and care settings. Four out of five people living in care homes have dementia and they deserve the best quality care and support.

“Poor providers should not be let off the hook and concerns must be adequately acted on. A special measures system should be part of a package of interventions aimed to bring all care providers to levels of the best’  

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