CQC recognise access to residents in care homes issue raised by investigation

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Following an investigation into the issue of care homes banning relatives that raise formal complaints and in some cases evicting residents also CQC has published guidance for care homes and relatives of residents.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, CQC said: –

“Care homes are people’s homes. They, their family and friends should not live in fear of being penalised for raising concerns.

“Good providers know this and we see plenty of excellent practice where managers and staff respond to complaints positively and make sure it is as easy as possible for people to visit their loved ones in a welcoming, friendly environment.

“But we know this is not always everyone’s experience, with reports of visiting restrictions and people being forced to leave against their wishes. We also know that too many people are frightened to raise concerns because they think this is going to happen.

“We have published information to clarify people’s rights and our expectations of providers so that people living in care homes, their family and friends can be more confident that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon by providers responsible for delivering safe, compassionate and high quality care.

“As we improve the way we monitor and inspect care services we will explore how we can collect information to give us a greater insight into this issue which we know worries the public and can be an important indicator of a service struggling to provide good care. This will help us to focus our inspection activity and encourage improvement. We will also continue to use our enforcement powers to take action against providers where appropriate for the benefit of those using services.”

Interestingly CQC have stated that they will require information in relation to care home residents that have been evicted following a complaint and circumstances where relatives have been denied access to the home following a complaint.  Whilst this is not yet currently a source of information which is fed into the inspections of care homes there seems to be a real intent to ensure that they form part of them in the future.

A protection for providers may be to ensure that, on the rare occasions where the home feels that it is necessary to evict a resident or deny access to a relative that the decision has been adequately thought through and properly documented.  It might be worthwhile to formulate a policy which could form an addendum to the complaints policy at the Service which deals specifically with the policy at the institution in relation to handling complaints of this nature and sets out safeguards to the policy.  It shouldn’t require a great deal of effort to ensure that the provider is protected by properly following a properly considered complaints handling.  Ensuring that such a decision is run past senior management at the home would invariably provide an adequate level of protection.

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