The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), as the statutory regulator of care homes, has overall responsibility for registering, inspecting and regulating homes, including inspecting against national minimum standards and the Care Homes Regulations. It is the only organisation of those referred to which has statutory responsibility for the inspection and regulation of care homes.
As part of its inspection work, CSCI will ensure that the necessary Criminal Records Bureau and protection of vulnerable adults scheme checks on care home staff have been carried out and that staff and the registered provider are appropriately trained, which will include meeting requirements, such as the registration of care workers, laid down by bodies such as the General Social Care Council.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget statement made on 16 March 2005 that CSCI and the Healthcare Commission will merge to form a single inspectorate for health and social care. The planned merger reflects increasingly close collaboration on the ground between people working in these two fields. It also reflects shared objectives for the highest possible standards for everyone using these services. The merger is part of a wider policy to improve regulation and help reduce the burden that it can place on the front line across health and social care. The intention is that the merger will take place in 2008.
The Compact on relations between Government and the voluntary and community sector in England (the compact), first introduced in 1998, is the framework agreement for how the Government and the sector should work together. The compact is the agreement between Government and the voluntary and community sector in England to improve their relationship for mutual advantage. It applies to care homes in the voluntary sector only.
By building better relationships, the compact can help Government and the voluntary and community sector work better together for the communities they serve. It operates on a voluntary basis but commitment is strong:
at the national level, it applies to Departments, their executive agencies, Government offices for the regions, non-departmental public bodies and voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations; and
at the local level, local compacts adapt the national framework to suit local circumstances and are an important means to increase understanding between the public sector and the VCS. To date, 98 per cent. of local authority areas have local compacts agreed or being developed.
The Government are strongly committed to creating a framework in which the sector can continue to flourish, be strong and independent.