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Home-care support often ‘poor’ finds health watchdog

A quarter of providers fall short of standards

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A quarter of home care providers are not meeting all the standards required of them according to a report published today.

Although the health and social care watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found examples of good care, only 74% of the 250 services inspected met all five of the national standards checked and the CQC found examples of ‘poor care’ which happened ‘all too often’.

In its report ‘Not Just a number’, the CQC inspected domiciliary care agencies providing at-home support and care to nearly 26,500 people. They measured the agencies on whether people receiving care at home are treated with dignity and respect, have a choice about the care they receive and benefit from effective systems to keep them safe.

The CQC began its review of home care services in April 2012 and today reported concerns around the following areas:

  • On many occasions, people received no prior notice that they would be visited by a care worker they didn’t know.
  • Visits were often delayed or sometimes cancelled without prior notice.
  • Risks associated with a person’s care or medical conditions had not been assessed and care plans had not been updated for several years.
  • Some services did not have clear systems to monitor the quality and information in care plans.

David Behan, CQC Chief Executive, said: “People have a right to expect to be treated as an individual, to be able to exercise choice, and to make sure their carers are aware of their specific care needs. We found plenty of evidence of this however we also found elements of poor care which happen too often.”

Services must now work more closely with commissioners to improve care, find solutions to these common problems and put systems in place to monitor the impact of missed or late visits, stated the CQC.

Commenting on the report Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, warned that ‘patchy quality’ was compromising patient dignity.

“Patchy quality means that some people are being forced to struggle with poor and in some cases undignified care,” he said.

“Good quality home care not only maintains dignity but also prevents people reaching crisis point and going into hospital unnecessarily or care homes early. If people are to be supported to live at home for as long as possible we must ensure that the good care highlighted in this report is being seen across the board.”

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