By Debbie le Quesne

New approach to CQC inspection of community mental health services

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 The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to put a greater emphasis on inspecting the care that is delivered to those with mental health problems.

Changes are included in A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of mental health services.

The new approach will affect comparatively few of our West Midlands Care Association members, but nationally is will have a big impact with more than 1.5 million adults using community mental health services last year.

Ratings (a great idea for easy assessment by the public) are intended to drive improvements, making it clear that people should expect services that are good, not services that only aspire to meet minimum standards.

In the past the commission has focused primarily on hospitals in this health care stream, but community-based services will now get more attention.

This new approach will also look at how community mental health services work with other supporting organisations and that can’t be bad as a more joined-up thinking approach is rolled out.

In cases where people are detained under the Mental Health Act for treatment or where they have had their liberty restricted, CQC will focus more sharply on ensuring that their rights are protected.

Central to CQC’s approach are new ways of engaging with people who use services – both families and carers. Those using services are also helping CQC formulate its new approach.

The regulator will also introduce ratings for specialist mental health services that reflect the reality of the care people receive.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said he wanted inspection teams to spend more time listening to people who use services, carers and staff.

As with many new service that CQC rolls out there are apprehensions, but it does genuinely appear there is a work together approach in a bid to bridge the us-them divide.

Mental health care make huge demands on its operators regarding the legalities of Mental Health Act, after all some of their charges are being cared for against their will. Focusing on the rights of those service users has to be good.

The main changes proposed are:

  • Including Mental Health Act specialists on all inspections of mental health services and bringing together CQC’s work under the Mental Health Act and how it regulates mental health services
  • Inspection teams of specialist inspectors, experts by experience and professional experts
  •  Ratings for mental health services – services will be rated outstanding, good, requires improvement, or inadequate
  • New ways of engaging with people who use services, their carers and families, during inspections and at other times
  • Greater focus on community mental health services
  • Making sure we have better information about mental health services and developing our intelligent monitoring system for these services
  • Looking at how people are cared for as they move between services
  • Recognising that mental health treatment and support is part of services in all sectors

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