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Care Home Safety

Volume 662: debated on Tuesday 18 June 2019

No compromise can be made on the safety of care homes, and that is why the Government introduced robust inspection regimes led by the Care Quality Commission. Latest figures from 3 June show that 80% of care homes have been rated good or outstanding for safety, with 84% of adult social care providers rated as good or outstanding overall.

I draw the Minister’s attention to one example of a care home run by a private provider: Ellesmere House, which offers residential care for dementia sufferers. In February 2015, there was a serious safeguarding incident leading to the death of a resident after an incident with another resident, yet its latest CQC report underlines continued failures in management. Is the Minister confident that we have a generation of providers with the skills, training and facilities needed to keep dementia sufferers safe and well cared for?

I thank the hon. Lady for that question. It is of course incredibly concerning when we hear cases of abuse or neglect in care homes. That is why the Government asked the CQC to inspect them in the first place and why we have put in place training through Skills for Care and given councils access to a lot more funding to help support them. However, abuse and neglect of any kind must not be tolerated.

I welcome the fact that the latest report from the Care Quality Commission indicates that four out of five adult social care services in England are rated either good or outstanding, but there is no room for complacency. Will the Minister expand on how she will ensure that that becomes five out of five?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight that four out of five care homes are rated good or outstanding. That is largely down to the more than 1.5 million adult social care professionals, who work with great professionalism and integrity. We drive up quality by supporting them better and ensuring that we can recruit more people into this incredible profession. We have had a very important adult social care recruitment campaign called, “Every day is different”, which looks to attract people with the right values into the sector to drive up quality and provide robust social care.

I know from my family’s personal experience that just because care homes have a CQC rating of good does not mean that there are not dangerous and serious issues lurking beneath the surface that impact patient safety and care. Will the Minister outline today what the Government are doing to look into reports from CQC homes that are rated good?

The hon. Lady has often spoken very movingly in the House about her personal experiences, and she is absolutely right: abuse of vulnerable people is absolutely abhorrent. We are very determined to stop it, and we want to prevent it from happening in the first place through the tough inspection regime. We want to shut down poor-quality homes and, most importantly, we have made sure that across the country, police, councils and the NHS work together to help to protect people in the long term.

The integrity of CQC ratings was dealt a mortal blow by the uncovering of abuse at Whorlton Hall by BBC “Panorama”. Watching the abuse on that programme is made worse by the knowledge that the abuse may have started five years ago. The unpublished inspection report from August 2015 described allegations of assaults on patients, the undocumented use of a seclusion room and the use of rapid tranquilisation not backed by an organisation policy. I do not have any confidence that the review called by the CQC will uncover the truth behind that abuse. Will the Minister agree to set up an inquiry into this matter, so that we can establish whether the care regulator is fit for purpose?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right: abuse of any kind must not be tolerated, and we have heard horrific accounts of abuse that must be tackled. That is why in May, we announced much stronger commissioning oversight arrangements, where people are put in place out of area. Local commissioners must visit regularly. The CQC has commissioned two independent reviews, and the findings and recommendations of both will be published. The point is that opportunities to intervene have been missed, and we must be open and transparent in getting to the bottom of what happened.