Nursing home leaders today called on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to work in partnership with care homes and hospitals in identifying how best to improve the way in which deprivation of liberty safeguards are applied in practice.
Responding to the CQC’s recently published 2012/13 report on this issue, the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) said it was disappointed that the regulator had not openly committed itself to a genuine partnership with the doctors, nurses and care assistants who had to make difficult and often delicately balanced decisions.
Said RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell: “The report talks about the CQC wanting to work in partnership with local authorities, but makes no mention of those who directly provide care and are therefore very much at the sharp end of it all. We hope that this was just an oversight in the drafting of the report and that the CQC does want to work closely with care home managers and staff.”
He added: “The CQC report shows that, in 2012/13, there was an increase in the number of applications from hospitals and care homes to the safeguarding authorities, coupled with what it calls a statistically significant reduction in the number of unlawful restrictions of individuals’ liberty, a figure which is small to begin with. These statistics show that things are moving in the right direction.”
Mr Ursell also pointed out that, in its publicity about the 2012/13 report, the CQC had chosen to highlight the fact that two thirds of hospitals and care homes that apply to the safeguarding authorities under the Medical Capacity Act are apparently failing to notify the regulator about the outcome of those applications.
Said Mr Ursell: “We do not know the reasons for these administrative oversights, but what is really important is the fact that the hospitals and care homes had, in all these instances, recognised the need to apply to the safeguarding authorities for authorisations to make decisions on behalf of residents who, in their view, were no longer able to make decisions for themselves.
“This, we believe, is in the spirit of the safeguarding legislation. Care providers want patients to make decisions for themselves. Where this is not possible, providers want to ensure that what they do is in their patients’ best interests.”
Looking to the future, Mr Ursell said that care homes across the country were keen to work with the CQC, local authorities and other relevant organisations to ensure that the provisions and safeguards laid down in the Mental Capacity Act were properly and consistently applied.
He concluded: “The CQC must make sure that it treats care providers as genuine partners. Education, training, support and encouragement are vital in this process. The CQC should take the lead in delivering that support. We, in the RNHA, will work with it to make this happen.”