Care homes set to enter special measures

care home image

Care homes under same scrutiny as failing hospitals

The special measures system introduced by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to improve failing NHS hospitals across England is due to be launched across care homes.

The government scheme, introduced last year, put 11 trusts in special measures and although most have made progress, only five have been taken out of special measures.

A similar programme will be introduced next year that instead focuses on care homes and home care agencies, covering an estimated 25,000 services. This could also ultimately lead to the closure of care homes that fail to improve. Special measures will be based on a ratings system, with categories of ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Joining special measures

Steps involved in being in special measures  include closer scrutiny by regulators, management changes, buddying schemes with successful trusts and an improvement director being parachuted in to oversee any changes that need to be made.

Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Association, told the BBC that anything that safeguarded vulnerable people “has got to be good”. However she also commented that there were concerns about how the new measures would be implemented and the financial pressures this could put on care homes put into special measures. Care homes in special measures may no longer get residents placed there by the local authority, and as a result they would lose additional funding and could face closure, in a way that does not happen to a hospital. “I wonder whether a home in special measures will be able to continue to function,” she added.

Judy Downey, the chairwomen of the Relatives and Residents’ Association, said “The CQC have always had the power to close a home on an emergency basis, they can give warnings to improve, they can impose fines. I really don’t see what this adds.”