Another Layer of Protection for Care Homes? Life's a Tick Box

Another layer of protection for failing care homes? What about protection for the residents living in them?

Yesterday we read that following an Appeal, the The Old Village School Nursing Home, Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire will re-open it's doors. The tribunal judge imposed a number of very strict conditions that the provider must adhere to, ones that the CQC fully support. "A care home deemed so bad residents had to be moved in the middle of the night has been given permission to reopen." BBC News 14 January 2016 Click HERE for news article. Remember August 2015?

"Elderly left freezing and crying in agony for up to seven hours in the middle of the night after watchdog shuts failing care home over safety concerns" Daily MailOnline 12 August 2015 Click HERE for news article. "At an appeal hearing in December, it was accepted Mr Badiani had taken "radical action to mprove the work force" including making redundancies, and implementing disciplinary proceedings and training packages." "He had also brought in external care consultants BKR Care Consultancy Limited to bring it up to standard."

Your Voice Matters voiced our concerns on twitter to Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care. "We will be monitoring what happens closely to make sure judge's restrictions are followed." CQC have offered reassurances of monitoring care homes Your Voice Matters have alerted them to, continuing to raise concerns directly to them for years. 'Monitoring' has proven a false guarantee and bad practice continues.

Morleigh Group, Cornwall. This care home group have historic failings in their homes which has caused us serious concern. We have flagged up this group and others for several years, as we continue to see the relentless failed CQC Inspections, media news on suspended admissions etc, combined with information we receive from our own sources. There have been no apparent attempts made to improve standards. This is not unique to the Morleigh Group. On 16 October 2015 we read news NHS Kernow had selected the Morleigh group as part of a pilot scheme. They brought in Quest for Care, an 'online benchmarking system' due to end March 2016. From our communication with NHS Kernow, ithere appears to have been no consultation with Cornwall Council or Care Quality Commission in order to gain a full understanding of issues. Surely this should have warranted a crisis meeting for consultation? Did they really have an insight into the failings of this group that Your Voice Matters and CQC do? I am doubtful of that. As at January 2016 the failed CQC Inspection Reports continue to be published for the Morleigh group. Even if some improvements are made, would they be sustained?

The approach of bringing in outside consultancy companies seems to be emerging. Is it easier for local NHS Commissioning Groups to bring them in to make it look like they are being proactive, instead of addressing the real issues or closing down the care homes? At what cost to the people living and working in the homes? Knowing someone who works for a consultancy, I am aware of the battles they face with some of the care homes they try to help. There is a realisation that this is what they have to do to get the boxes ticked, but at the same time a lack of co-operation and sense of resentment. As we all know, compliance does not guarantee good care. It is in effect nothing more than a marketing tool to attract new business.

Care home providers should not need to pay consultancy services to tutor them on how to pass CQC Inspections. Are brought in Consultancy Services just another layer of protection for care home providers? Another 'get out of jail card' to make it look like they are taking it seriously? We should be looking at why the failings are happening in the first instance and getting to the root of the problem. Trouble is, that often comes down to bad management. It starts and ends at the top. Much easier for them to bring a consultant in and find other avenues to apportion blame? We must also be mindful that many care homes are now deciding to sell up. It must be difficult to sell a care home with a bad reputation. Some providers may use local NHS funded schemes to improve their CQC rating in readiness to sell. A much more attractive option for prospective buyers.

Authoriative bodies should be consulting with the right people to find solutions, as what they are doing clearly is not working. This could include practical help by experienced people who are not interested in making profit and most certainly not an on-line assessment process. Your Voice Matters know fantastic health campaigners in Cornwall and nationally who are up to the challenge. Let Your Voice Matters and our associates help you create solutions!

Jenny Moore

14 January 2016

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