CQC chief: I’ll open up care home inspections to the public'

League tables also to be introduced as part of moves to overhaul the regulation of adult care

Britain’s first Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care is preparing to recruit an army of ordinary people with personal experience of the care system to help conduct inspections.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Andrea Sutcliffe says  these new “experts by experience” – including relatives of people in homes – would take a central role in her radical overhaul of the regulation of care homes and other services.

On Tuesday the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will announce a package of intended changes to the way the watchdog keeps care providers under scrutiny. Homes will be given a ranking from poor to excellent which will be easily accessible for the public online.

Ms Sutcliffe, who started in her job last week, is one of three chief inspectors appointed by the CQC as part of a new regime at the watchdog. The other two have responsibility for hospitals and general practice.

One of her first moves will be to make sure her inspectors only work in adult social care.

“We’ve got experienced inspectors but what they’ve been doing is working to a generic model, so they might be going into a hospital and looking at an intensive-care unit and then going into a domiciliary-care service the next,” she says. “What I want to make sure is that we’re identifying those people within our inspection team who actually have the skills and experience and the understanding of adult social care that means they’re our experts and they can make a professional judgement.”

Alongside these inspectors will be members of the public, whom  Ms Sutcliffe hopes will help get to the truth about the quality of care.

She says: “These are people who’ve had an experience of care, either because they might be a mental-health service user themselves, or they might have cared for someone who’s been in a residential home with dementia.”

These “experts by experience”  would be trained and paid for their time and expenses. She believes there will be no shortage of volunteers: “We know that an awful lot of those folk are keen to share their experience and share their insight and we know also that when they are involved in inspections they give us a tremendous way of finding out from people who are currently using the service – and the staff – what it’s like, because they’re having a very empathetic conversation.”

As well as the CQC inspector and a member of the public, some inspections will have a third expert with specific knowledge. Ms Sutcliffe says these “specialist advisers” would go into places such as a hospices, where particular experience was needed.

She says: “If the information was suggesting that we had a particular problem, such as with medication, then we’d suggest that a pharmacist go along. It’s about us having greater insight into how we conduct the inspection so that the time we spend doing it is much more focused.”

Care providers will be given rankings, and rated according to how caring, effective, responsive, safe and well-led they are. Those which are failing may be inspected more frequently.

The 49-year-old’s previous job as head of the Social Care Institute for Excellence was focused on finding examples of the very best care, but in her latest role, she will witness some of  the worst. Over the summer the CQC’s reputation could scarcely have been lower. After its failure to publish the names of those involved in a cover-up of a bungled investigation into deaths at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria, its own chairman, David Prior, admitted the organisation had not been “fit for purpose”.

Ms Sutcliffe says: “The organisation has been taking a long, hard look at itself and there’s been a lot we can draw from that. We have got to improve and I think there’s a real spirit here about wanting to improve.”

She says she wants to take stronger enforcement action when care organisations fail to comply, saying this was an area the CQC had “fallen down” on in the past.

“For example, with registered managers, which is a basic requirement of registration – registered homes should have one. As of June 2013 we had nearly 4,000 homes that didn’t have one and about a quarter of those hadn’t had one for more than two years.

“What’s interesting is there is a greater correlation between homes that don’t have a registered manager with rates of non-compliance. So we know how important it is and we have the ability to issue fixed-penalty notices.”

On Twitter, she describes herself as “passionate about making a difference”, as well as about Sunderland Football Club, the Tour de France and – judging from the photographs she  posts – cats.

For a public figure, she is disarmingly open on the site, something she says she is unconcerned about.

“I do think I’m a human being too,” she says, “and I don’t want to be setting myself up in an ivory tower that says I’m the font of all wisdom on adult social care, because, frankly, I’m not.”

Humanity – how human beings experience care homes – is central to how she wants her inspectors to work.

“It’s about people’s whole lives, so we do need to be making it human, making it personal,” she says. “I think of it in my head as ‘the mum test’. Is this good enough for my mum? Or any relevant member of my family? And if it is, that’s fantastic, but if it’s not then it’s not good enough for anybody’s mum and we need to do something about it.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

    £40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

    Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

    £21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past