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Care homes in crisis?

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With the media in full tilt this week it would be easy to think that care homes are in crisis with inadequate care and bad publicity. This surrounds the serious case review following the 19 deaths at Orchid View Care Home, which closed in 2011. This is no doubt bad news for all those care homes out there achieving very high standards and being dragged into the consequences with the rest.

An inquest found last year that 19 people died at the Orchid View home and their deaths were unexplained. They were found to have received ‘sub-optimal’ care including five cases of neglect. The serious case review published its findings on Monday and made 34 recommendations. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has also admitted a series of failings and has published their own report.

Many of the issues that arose are matters affecting every care home but not as dramatically and with not the same catastrophic effects. This must serve as a warning to all however to ensure that care standards are maintained and reviewed constantly.

The independent chairman and author of the report Nick Georgiou said: ‘A sign of a good service is how they rectify things that go wrong’. This is a direct acknowledgement that things do go wrong and care homes shouldn’t be afraid to seek advice and work with the different agencies to prevent the series of difficulties resulting in the huge impact as happened at Orchid View. It appears one of the main issues according to Nick Georgiou was the ‘avoidance of positive action to rectify problems and a series of ineffectual action plans that were not acted on’.

The CQC report acknowledged the difficulties and they accept they did not respond to early warning signs and as a result have pledged to become more responsive to risk; to improve their inspections and increase the number of inspections concentrating on five key questions – is the service safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led? Additionally ratings will not be awarded if there is insufficient evidence to do so.

The final commitment listed in the report is a commitment to use their enforcement powers to secure improvement, constraints or the closure of a service. This will of course impact on the whole industry.

If care providers find themselves the subject of such enforcement action, they should seek advice immediately as to how to challenge inaccurate reports and how to prevent any further enforcement action being taken.

By Rachel Adamson, Partner and head of the Regulatory team

We have specialists in this area and can assist you with any issues raised by the CQC or indeed any of the many different regulatory bodies you have to deal with. If you need advice please call us on 0333 344 4772.