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Care home regulation under the spotlight

22 Feb 2013

Care home operators will be interested to note that the Minister of State for Care and Support has launched a 12 week consultation on new measures to protect people who rely on care services in the event of provider failure.

Following the much publicised demise of Southern Cross, which at the time was the UK’s biggest care home provider, Norman Lamb has called for “greater oversight of providers’ finances…”.

In light of the recently exposed abuse at Winterbourne Care Home, Mr Lamb stated that he thought there was “a significant lack of corporate accountability for the quality of care that is provided in care homes and in private hospitals”.  He added that he has “a sense that the whole regulatory model for the care sector is not actually yet fit for purpose.”

Under the proposals, new regulation would be introduced to ensure there is a system of checks on the finances of the largest care home providers; this includes giving regulators the power to go through the books of the providers to oversee their financial performance and challenge their business models. The providers would also be required to have plans to recover from financial distress and provide the regulator with information to develop contingency plans with local authorities for continuing care in the event of a failure.

Whilst many commentators have welcomed the proposals, others have suggested a better approach would be to seek greater stability in the marketplace by ensuring that local authorities, who are the most significant purchasers of care, are adequately funded and therefore able to pay a reasonable fee for the care provided.

The consultation will end on 1 March 2013.  The Department of Health has stated if these proposals are taken forward the legislation would come into force with the Care and Support Bill in April 2015, subject that is to parliamentary approval.

For further information, please contact Jonathan Waters on 0191 232 8345 or email jonathan.waters@hay-kilner.co.uk