With 80% of care home inspection reports more than two years old and a new rating system to be implemented, homes are being left to their own devices. Is this good enough for those relying on up-to-date information?
When my grandparents went into care homes several years ago, it was a hard decision and we took full advantage of the regulator’s inspection reports which were available online.
But if you’ve had reason to look for a care home recently, you may have been surprised to find that the Care Quality Commission stopped running its rating or ‘star’ system back in June 2010. Instead, its website tells us, it’s creating a ‘new measure of excellence’, with a consultation on a new system of assessment of care services due to start in December.
And as you leaf through the inspection reports on the regulator’s website you might feel a little sceptical. A recent parliamentary question revealed that 80% of the inspection reports are over two years old.
Too much can change in two years
My cursory search revealed that this was indeed the case, with the first home we randomly searched for showing its ‘latest inspection report’ dating back to January 2008. A lot can change in over two years – staff come and go, management move on and new systems can come into play, all having a major effect on the overall running and ethos of the home.
Our members overwhelmingly tell us they’re concerned about the quality of care in homes. If you saw businessman Sir Gerry Robinson’s depressing picture of dementia care homes for the BBC recently you’ll probably be concerned too. Yet the regulator tells us that 83% of care homes were rated good or excellent in 2010 compared to 69% in 2008.
So is all well behind closed doors… or is there something we should be concerned about? Are things improving and will the brave new world of inspection and rating prove a good one? In the meantime, for almost a year, there are many relying on increasingly out-of-date reports.