More than a year after most shut their doors and despite an order to reopen, thousands of grieving relatives say they are banned. Some are only allowed to see seriously sick and dying loved ones from behind screens and talk to them on phones in what amounts to “prison-like” visits. Those who have grievances have been told to complain to the care provider or fill out a feedback form.
Care Minister Helen Whately said: “New visiting arrangements started on March 8.
“Every care home should ensure each resident can nominate one named person who can have regular, indoor visits.
“We are pursuing non-legislative routes for implementation, which allow us to move more swiftly.”
But the seeming inability to force providers to adhere to guidelines has led to calls for an overhaul of the Care Quality Commission.
Julia Jones is the co-founder of John’s Campaign which was set up in 2014 to lobby for extended visiting rights for family carers. Writing in this newspaper today, she underlines the human misery within many care homes. She said: “This is not an attack on individual CQC inspectors, but on its current leadership.”
But the watchdog promised to get tough on blanket bans, threatening providers with on-the-spot inspections if they flouted rules.
Although some homes have opened up, others have restricted visiting to just 30 minutes once a week from a nominated and named visitor.
The CQC, an executive arm of the Department of Health and Social Care, was set up in 2009 to regulate and inspect health and social care services in England. Chief executive Ian Trenholm’s salary is £195,000.
On Tuesday campaign group Rights for Residents met with the CQC and told them families of the 400,000 care home residents in the UK are “losing faith in its ability to act”. Co-founder Jenny Morrison said: “The CQC told us it’s very difficult to trigger an inspection if people make anonymous complaints and yet they are well aware relatives are too afraid to speak openly for fear of eviction.
“Who is monitoring these care providers? Currently nobody by the look of it.”
CQC said it had carried out 3,639 risk-based inspections since April 1 – equal to 10 every day. Kate Terroni, chief inspector of adult social care, said: “We are aware of 18 concerns which have been raised with us about possible blanket bans, however, we have not confirmed any in place at this moment.”
Comment by Julia Jones
It is not an exaggeration to say the failure of mission in the CQC has been a major contribution to human misery in many care homes over the past 12 months.
This is not an attack on individual CQC inspectors but on its current leadership.
Kate Terroni, chief inspector of adult social care, has it seems forgotten “the Mum test”.
Her predecessor Andrea Sutcliffe said: “To make sure our regulatory approach is truly personalised I want us to consider for every service we look at – is this good enough for my Mum [or any other member of my family]? If it is, that is fantastic.
“If it’s not, then we need to do something about it.”
She said her organisation was “about the people using services and putting them at the heart of what we do”.
I’m sure there are good people in the CQC who feel miserable at their abandonment of the rights and needs of other people’s mums – abandonment of all the individual service users.
Ms Terroni has said the CQC will take action against blanket bans, without seeming to be very clear as to what or where they are. Her reported approach is negative, policy driven, non-specific and institutional.
It is not a championing of the rights and needs of every individual – which is what CQC inspectors should be doing.
The CQC has failed as an organisation and its latest consultation – which is about processes, not people – looks likely to make things worse. If Ms Terroni does not understand the importance of the “Mum test” she should resign.
• Julia Jones is co-founder of John’s Campaign