After a quarter of a century of working to support older people in care and their relatives, the R&RA is a leading and respected voice in this field. Our in-depth knowledge, with the many more years of professional experience in care and regulation represented among our trustee body, staff and volunteers, gives us a unique authority to stand up to central and local government and speak out effectively for the changes still needed to improve care.
A proper training system for care workers
Most people are astonished to learn there is no requirement for a care worker to have any qualification at all before being put in charge of vulnerable elderly people in a care home. Even the previous provision of an NVQ in care studies has now been withdrawn, and it was not in any case a mandatory requirement for a care job. We consider this completely inadequate and the responsibility of government, as there is no prospect of the “market” or the private care sector putting it right on their own. No one would think it safe to put up with this state of affairs in a children’s home: why should it be any different for vulnerable older people at the other end of their lives?
A full national system of training and qualification for care workers ought to be a priority, and we are pleased to know there is likely to be trade union support for our initiative. Improving the status and conditions of care workers, and a proper career path for a demanding job that ought to be far better recognised, are both long overdue.
Quicker and more frequent CQC inspections
Again many people would be surprised to learn that it is open to anyone, even without any previous experience, to set up a care home and there is no requirement or even probability that there will be any inspection of their premises by CQC, the regulator, before they open the doors and start taking in vulnerable older people, or for anything up to two years thereafter: and even if a home is found on eventual inspection to need improvement, there is little chance of a snap followup inspection to check, or any certainty of another inspection of any kind until yet more months or even a year or so have passed.
We think this is no way to ensure effective regulation of the sector as it leaves too much to chance: it amounts to a gamble with the welfare of residents. So we are pressing for return of the pre-CQC regime of mandatory inspections of every care home (without advance warning) at least once in every 6 months, as a far better way for the inspectors and the regulator to see what is really going on and ensure any shortcomings do get put right.
And for a good illustration of why there is every reason to be concerned about both these issues at once, see our news item from earlier this year on the Hailsham House scandal and the sadly inadequate regulatory response.
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