'Excellence ratings' for care homes
Government acts in the wake of neglect exposed by The Independent
Nursing homes are to be told to submit to new "excellence tests" or risk losing public funding, under plans to be announced today.
Homes will be assessed on staff training and turn-over, daily activities for residents, and the quality of care they offer. Only those which professionally register all their staff are expected to be allowed to take part and the results of the tests will be published to give families information on what they can expect from individual homes.
Ministers have warned that only those institutions which meet the new standards are likely to be funded in future by local councils. But critics of the plan said small independent care homes might not be able to afford the cost of registering for the new scheme and could go bankrupt, forcing residents to move even if the home was offering outstanding care. The Independent has been highlighting the neglect of elderly residents in some homes, which campaigners say will get worse as public-sector cuts start to bite. More than half a million elderly people are in nursing homes and the number is expected to rise to 1.3 million by 2050.
Local councils spend around 50 per cent of their budgets on social care, the bulk of which is for the elderly. As a result of the public-sector funding cuts highlighting the neglect of elderly residents in some homes, which campaigners say will get worse as public-sector cuts start to bite. More than half a million elderly people are in nursing homes and the number is expected to rise to 1.3 million by 2050.
Local councils spend around 50 per cent of their budgets on social care, the bulk of it on the elderly. As a result of the public-sector funding cuts announced in October's comprehensive spending review, the same councils will have their budgets cut by up to 9 per cent a year for the next four years.
At Christmas, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out spot inspections of 234 health and social-care institutions, including nursing homes, which revealed significant lapses in standards in more than a third of cases. Ten reviews resulted in the highest form of censure, which could to lead to the commission withdrawing licences to operate.
After one review, a nursing home in Luton – run by Southern Cross, Britain's largest care-home provider – was closed immediately because conditions were so bad. The commission found that 26 other institutions were not meeting required standards in all areas and ordered improvements.
Details of the "excellence tests" will be published by the commission today. Later in the year, the Government will unveil its long-term plans for reforming the care sector. These are likely to include the introduction of a new "insurance model" to pay for care in later life. People without insurance forfeit their assets when they die to pay for care they have received.
Speaking before a consultation to decide how the excellence rating will be assessed, Paul Burstow, the Care Services minister, said good-quality care was not always about money. "Compassion, common sense, treating people with dignity and respect are not simply about spending more. They are about the way you do things. We want to look at what's being done [in nursing homes] to add life to the years you're having rather than just adding years to the life you're leading.
"The new ratings will provide further pressure within the sector to improve. So it creates another lever for the commissioner to pull, to say we are only going to place people with you if you are excellent."
The scheme will start out as optional and the cost of the inspections will be borne by the care homes. The commission's chief executive, Cynthia Bower, said: "CQC's role is to identify and react to signs that people may be at risk of receiving poor care. But this is not the same as saying other provider are offering 'excellent' care.
"An excellence award can recognise best practice, be a spur to improvement for providers who already meet CQC's essential standards, and can help people who need longer-term care to make choices."
Under the plans, all staff working for "excellent" nursing homes will likely have to be registered with a new Health and Care Workers Professions Council. This means care workers could be "stuck off" for poor practice and eventually the body could require minimum qualifications for registration.
"We want to see if we can work it on a voluntary basis but you probably won't be able to have an excellence rating unless you employ people who are registered," said Mr Burstow.
His long-term intention was to make the care system much more transparent and clear for both residents and their families," he said.
What will be rated?
* What may be included in the new excellence ratings
* Ratio of staff to residents
* Turnover of staff
* Activity programmes for residents and evidence that they are taking place
* All staff to be registered with the new Health and Care Workers Professions Council
* Minimum qualifications for staff
* Spot inspections and independent feedback from residents and their families.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...