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Domiciliary Care

Volume 551: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2012

7. What steps he plans to take to ensure that providers of domiciliary care employ staff who are properly qualified and security checked. (124140)

Providers of services are responsible for the safety and quality of the care they provide. All staff must be properly qualified and vetted, and the Care Quality Commission can and must take action against providers who fail in that regard. Action can range from a warning notice to, ultimately, cancelling a provider’s registration. The commission must be willing to take that action if necessary.

But the Minister knows that a recent BBC programme showed that 217 providers of care at home use staff who are not properly qualified, and that dozens of people with criminal records have not been vetted and are working unsupervised in people’s homes. The Care Quality Commission has reached only just over one in four of its target inspections, with 40% of care at home providers never having been inspected by it. What will the Minister do to ensure that we can have more confidence in care provided at home to vulnerable people and that it is up to a better and safer standard?

I absolutely share the hon. Lady’s concern about this. It is intolerable that people receiving domiciliary care do not get high-quality care and that in some cases people are inappropriately employed. The Care Quality Commission must take action where there is evidence of employers not taking sufficient action to guarantee the quality of their staff. It is essential that the people who run those services are held to account if they fail in that regard.

Will the Minister also consider the matter of the uniforms worn by staff in this sector? I understand that on occasions there has been confusion in members of the general public between such staff and qualified nurses.

It is absolutely essential that users of services know exactly who the staff are who are caring for them, and the issue of uniform is something that I would be happy to discuss further with the hon. Gentleman.