According to the CQC, care homes are “now benefitting from a robust new inspection method the organisation has developed over the last year.”
But Tim Godfrey, head of the care-homes team at Bishop Fleming has severe doubts.
“Speaking to our many care-home clients, it is clear that CQC inspectors are now handing out very few ‘Outstanding’ grades’ – probably driven by the publicity surrounding recent cases where CQC approved homes were found to be failing.
“Meanwhile, the CQC is handing out far more ‘Requiring Improvement’ assessments – often at odds with a previous track record of excellent performance”, said Mr Godfrey.
“This sounds far more like a case of the CQC taking a hyper-cautious approach in response to recent bad news stories. It’s the safe option for them to minimise the number of ‘Outstanding’ grades and maximise the number of ‘Requiring improvement’ judgements.
“That formula makes it seem like the CQC is doing a more thorough job, but it can have unintended consequences for the ability of care-homes to improve or expand their operations. A down-graded CQC report, albeit involving minor improvements required, leads to banks’ credit teams refusing loans through lack of understanding”, warns Bishop Fleming’s Tim Godfrey.
Meanwhile the latest announcement from Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, included care-homes among five sectors targeted for a reduction in “red tape”.
“When it comes to care homes, local authorities, the Care Quality Commission and Clinical Commissioning Groups can ask for similar information and carry out similar inspections, thus diverting attention away from actually caring for residents” said the Minister.
Bishop Fleming’s Tim Godfrey said: “The red tape faced by care-homes is a direct consequence of the significant paperwork required to satisfy the regulators. “It would be great if the Minister can remove the duplication of reporting to the CQC, clinical commissioning groups, and local authorities – but that just reduces the number of recipients without reducing the paperwork that is still required”, he warned.
“Care homes are under immense pressure right now: pressure on funding, pressure on costs – especially with the new demand on ‘the living wage’, and pressure to meet the CQC’s need to combat recent bad publicity. This is a crucial sector for meeting Britain’s growing demand to cater for an ageing population, but little is being said or done by the CQC or government to relieve those pressures”, said Mr Godfrey.