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Failure regime to be introduced for social care sector

Inadequate providers will be put in special measures and ultimately shut down

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Care homes and providers of social care to patients in their homes face being putting into special measures and being closed down if the care they provide is not up to scratch under a new regime announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The new inspection and ratings regime will be introduced for 25,000 care home and homecare services in England by the Care Quality Commission from October. The system will look at whether people are getting safe and effective care, tailored to their needs, being treated with dignity and respect, and are being looked after by skilled, compassionate staff. The ratings will be published online so the public can access them when making decisions about care for themselves or a loved one.

From April 2015, any services receiving an inadequate rating will be put into special measures, which will mean they will be told what improvements they need to make and given a specific timescale within which to make them.  If ‘inadequate’ providers fail to improve within the designated timescale, the Care Quality Commission will be able to close them down.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission, said: “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.

“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.

She added: “Of course we want services to improve, but where standards are repeatedly falling short, we will call time on poor care.”

Hunt said that the new ratings system would allow people and their families to make clear choices. “There are still too many care homes that I wouldn’t be happy to see my own parents or grandparents in. We have shown the special measures process works and care turn around poor-performing hospitals and we can do the same for adult social care.”

Of the 11 hospitals put into special measures in July 2013 in the wake of the scandal at Mid Staffs, it has been recommended that five come out of special measures – three with ongoing support. Three more have made progress but been kept in special measures for at least another six months. One hospital (Medway) has been found to have made no progress, and recommendations have yet to be made on the final two hospitals (Burton and Sherwood Forest).

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