Skip to main content

Care Homes: Standards

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that older people in care homes receive a minimum standard of care; and if he will make a statement. (204592)

The Government established the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 as a single inspectorate to bring together all strands of inspection, monitoring and the regulation of social care services, including care and nursing homes for older people.

We introduced national minimum standards (NMS) for care homes, domiciliary care and adult placements. The NMS are intended to ensure vulnerable and older people can live in a safe environment, where their rights and dignity are respected and staff are properly trained. All care homes in England are regulated—registered and inspected—by CSCI in accordance with statutory regulations and the NMS. CSCI has a wide range of enforcement powers and will take action to protect the welfare of residents, with the aim of raising the quality of care and level of protection for vulnerable people and ensuring that service users and their families can be confident that their welfare and interests are safeguarded.

We introduced the Protection of Vulnerable Adults Scheme in July 2004. This scheme, which operates as a work force ban, prevents dangerous or unscrupulous people from gaining access to older and vulnerable people in care homes or being cared for in their own homes.

On the recommendation of the Bichard inquiry, we are introducing a new centralised vetting and barring scheme for people working with children and vulnerable people. This scheme, as set out in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, will extend the coverage of the existing barring scheme and draw on wider sources of information to provide a more comprehensive and consistent measure of protection for vulnerable groups across a wide range of settings, including the whole of social care and the national health service. The new scheme will make it far more difficult for abusers to gain access to some of the most vulnerable groups in society.

In November 2006, the Department launched the first ever national Dignity In Care campaign. Our intention is to create a care system where there is zero tolerance of abuse and disrespect of older people and a situation where people are as outraged by the abuse of parents and grandparents as they are at the abuse of children.

Subject to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, all health and adult social care providers that come within the scope of registration will be required to register with the new regulator of health and social care services, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). We expect CQC to begin its work in April 2009, when it will take over the duties of CSCI, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission.

CQC will provide assurance of essential levels of safety and quality of care to people using health and adult social care services in England. Our aim is to ensure that the registration system will apply equally to all health and adult social care providers, whether from the NHS, local authority or independent sectors. For the first time, there will be a single coherent, enforceable set of requirements for all providers of these services. In order to be granted registration, care providers will need to demonstrate that they can meet, or are already meeting the registration requirements. To maintain registration, they will be required to demonstrate an ongoing ability to meet those requirements.