Today’s Care Home Professional reports another case where a care home has been fined a substantial sum of money (£200,000). The home failed to carry out basic risk assessments and management procedures. The incident that followed cased injuries which were said to have contributed to a subsequent death.
Now, whilst legal advice and representation costs are insurable, criminal penalties are not. A criminal penalty may well lead to enhanced liability insurance premiums or a failure to offer insurance at all. This is serious stuff.
A vulnerable older lady ended her life with additional pain and discomfort which should never have occurred. The car service, selected effectively at random, received a very expensive slap on the wrist which could have been financially ruinous.
The staff concerned probably have endured professional and regulatory challenge which may well have adversely affected reputations and even the ability to earn a living.
Paradoxically the financial penalty will not have been applied in the improvement of safety but simply have disappeared into Treasury coffers, as will all criminal penalties. Equally worthy of reflection is that the victim surcharge (measuring to an extent the impact of the wrong doing) was set at £170! There is much food for thoughts.
For providers this is another wake up call to ensure that the pressure to fill beds which may not be sufficiently financed to provide the correct safe care package needs to be tempered by strong pre0admission assessments and detailed costed care plans. Insufficient funding will not be in no way a valid excuse for lack of correct and safe care.
That is exactly as it should be.
However, we must wonder if there should not also be some degree of culpability for commissioners who press complex admissions which they should know require greater funding than the underpayments which they offer. (There is no information about the funding level in the reported case but generally underfunding of care packages is widespread).
Care providers should assess carefully and put in place detailed care plans before admission. The assessed needs cannot be met within the preferred fee, then a commercial judgment must be made as to whether the admission should be accepted without proper funding. Pre-admission is the only moment for effective price negotiation.
A pressured admission perhaps late on a Friday may be a short term relief, but, may have long term serious consequences. A fully implemented care plan in time, might save £200,000 and more importantly unnecessary pain and anguish for those in need.
Beware care providers.