Large care home providers are to face a tough new regime of corporate inspections by CQC. Under the plans, if a single care home run by a larger group is found to be inadequately caring for residents, it could trigger an urgent, wider look at other care homes run by the company.
Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care said that she wanted to improve CQC’s scrutiny of corporate leadership provided by care home chains to ensure standards were maintained and enforced.
She said: “We will be making sure there is a much better relationship between the CQC and our corporate providers so that we are looking at the picture across the piste. We need to say: ‘We’ve seen this happening in Netherwallop so what’s actually happening in Northumberland’ and do we need to do that comparison?”
Ms Sutcliffe is overseeing the launch of CQC’s new wave of inspections which, for the first time will have each service rated as either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. Those rated as inadequate will be put into special measures and possibly shut down unless an immediate improvement is made. Ms Sutcliffe said: “We are seeing some services that are clearly struggling… There are a small number at the bottom end who are inadequate and are providing utterly unacceptable care. We published one report last week where the inspectors walked in, and while the façade looked lovely, when you got behind it the home smelt. People were being left in bed because there were not enough staff to help them get up. People were not being helped to eat – and that was having an impact on their health.”
Speaking about inspectors Ms Sutcliffe said: “The critical thing our inspectors need to have is a ‘nose’ – and that’s not just the nose for how it smells which is important – but also that instinct which says ‘Yep, I can see this is something that I might need to explore further.’ ”
CQC will also be focusing on the financial viability of services. Ms Sutcliffe said that the relationship between good care and the financial resources of companies running the homes needs more work. She said that, “there’s a relationship between quality of care and the finances. If you see the quality dropping that can be an indication of wider problems.”
Ms Sutcliffe said that the guide she wants her inspectors to follow is what she calls the “mum test” and for inspectors to ask themselves, “would this service be one where you would be happy to leave a loved one?”
She also said: “Regulators are often seen as remote. People don’t connect it to the work they are doing and the people they are providing the service for. But nothing could be further from the truth. We are all here to make a difference to the people using care services. I thought it was very important to say clearly that the core of what we are doing is about people – and making that human by making that connection with someone you love. And in that case that’s my mum.”