By Debbie le Quesne

Archive for January 2015

Record turnaround for fist WMCA DBS online

leave a comment »

It’s been a long time coming but it’s worth noting that the first electronic DBS check  completed by West Midlands Care Association was done so in record time.

Within just four hours the documentation was completed for Birmingham’s Albion Court which is part of Restful Care Homes.

The association won approval by the Home Office to deliver an online disclosure and barring service in November.

The move followed months of negotiating to secure a competitive deal with an accredited online operator. The contract finally went to uCheck.

A raft of security measures has been introduced at the WMCA headquarters to comply with HO regulations.

With strong support of its membership, WMCA has pushed hard to improve the current delays in processing disclosures.

This should now see the end to the horrendous delays we have experienced. One case took a staggering 141 days to process, with past averages working out at 33 days.

By committing to work alongside uCheck in this fast-track initiative we are underpinning our commitment to improve the DBS experience and we know it is something our members desperately need.

The new system helps eliminate common errors found in form filling exercises which often don’t come to light until the application is in the process system.

Facts the Telegraph Justice for Elderly campaign overlooked

leave a comment »

The Telegraph – bastion of what we often believe to be proper journalism – has in recent time fired a broadside at the care industry in a new campaign.

A report headlined ‘Elderly at risk at hundreds of care homes’ graced its pages in at the tailend of last year with a warning that more than 500 care homes and services for the elderly put frail residents at risk.

The reason: Because staff were just not good enough, the paper claimed.

The Telegraph ammunition comes from new figures from industry regulator the Care Quality Commission.

Let me quote the figures: “. . .of the 5,332 care homes and home-help services assessed in the last 12 months, 522 failed to meet the most basic legal standards for staffing.”

Journalists Tim Ross, John Bingham and Patrick Sawer then conclude (care of the CQC) that “tens of thousands of elderly and disabled adults across England are being looked after by workers who are not properly trained, have no relevant experience, or in some cases may even have criminal records.”

The Telegraph cites among its Justice for the Elderly campaign that it aims to ensure care staff are properly trained and licensed, properly trained, better regulated, and for the establishing of a “highly publicised care advice service.”

This latest news comes just a few days after more than 60 residents were evacuated from Merok Park Care Home, in Banstead, after the Commission shut it down.

As a seasoned campaigner and provider of tools for care excellence, I applaud any initiative to bring justice to the vulnerable, elderly of society. But I’m alarmed, though not surprised, by the scaremongering of such campaigning journalism.

Clearly The Telegraph has invested heavily into this work with three writers on the case.

I am therefore surprised that a more rounded and balanced approach has not been taken.

However we interpret the data, the fact remains that care and nursing homes, special needs and dementia care, and community care providers deliver many cameos of excellence across the UK.

The article fails to address the current whirlwind of mandatory training and assessment for carers covering dignity, safeguarding, first aid, health and safety, food hygiene, manual handling, mental capacity, issues of law and infection prevention to name but a few.

And of course, those providers with specialised interests would be expected to furnish the proper knowledge to staff to enable them to work fin the best care interest of their charges. For example, care staff in a dementia home would be expected to have relevant training.

I am surprised too that no mention is made of the new Care Certificate which has been introduced and will be mandatory for all care staff from April 1 next year.

I’m left asking: How much more skill education can we possibly deliver?

The Telegraph doubtless concludes that informing readers of such a wealth of training out there has no place in its article. Indeed, the decanting of such facts into its readership may even get them questioning the tone of the copy. Sadly, with so much bad publicity aimed at the care sector, I believe the general public is becoming anaesthetised to the sensationalism of this kind of work. With the Press crying wolf at every possible opportunity for a juicy care headline it would do well to consider that its own integrity may well be eroded as well as that of its victims.

Care chief takes W. Mids care woes to London

leave a comment »

As the West Midlands Care Association Chief Executive I have a duty to take every opportunity to represent my members in places that can influence their care business.

Talks with the Department of Health over the financial restrictions that are currently strangling the industry proved no exception.

Representing both my members and those of the Care Alliance in which I holds a co-chair role with Erica Lockhart from Surrey Care Association, I spelt out how financial pegging threatened future provision in the private sector.

Meeting in Westminster with Paul Richardson, head of Quality and Safety, and Karen Dooley, Policy Lead for Adult and Social Care, under the Alliance banner I was keen to explain to the movers and shakers what is happening at grass-roots level across the country.

But I also took the opportunity to inform these senior staff what is happening in the West Midlands.

We spoke about the problems for our learning disability providers who have not had cost of living increases for over four years, despite huge rises in overheads.

The main outgoing for them is wages and the minimum wage has gone up at lease four times in as many years.

We also discussed the difficulties of running care businesses in areas where the local authorities don’t pay the full cost of care.

Also on the agenda were the implication of the new inspection regime and the number of failing homes and why they are in trouble.

I questioned whether the right areas of the care sector are being examined and sought policy pointers from government on how it thinks failing homes can recover.

Watch this space . . I’m sure more will follow.

Care Alliance takes concerns to the DoH

leave a comment »

Along with other representatives of the newly-formed Care Association Alliance I have met with Department of Health officials in Westminster to discuss the pegging of fees with learning disability providers and other industry problems.

It is hoped the talks on the grass-root issues of care provision will foster a future working relationship between government and the Alliance.

With Erica Lockhart from Surrey Care Association, David Smallcombe from Avon and Roger Wharton from Somerset I met with Paul Richardson, Head of Quality and Safety and Karen Dooley, the Policy Lead for Adult and Social Care.

The Alliance was set up last November with a mandate to represent and help local care association support each other.

Key to its aim is a focus to resolve day-to-day issues of care provision and to enhance quality for those in need of it.

The meeting at the DoH headquarters targeted five main issues including the financial restrains driven by government policy and the pegging of fees for four years for those offering learning disability services.

Deprivation of liberty was also on the agenda as the Care Quality Commission has been penalising providers for not having enough DOLS in place. Many local authorities across the UK, unable to keep up with demand, have asked members to prioritise cases and “send through applications gradually” which has added to the regulatory problem.

Misuse of safeguarding orders by some local authorities; the National Skills Academy’s Registered Manager Programme for driving up care standards; and nursing shortages which continue to dog the industry were also discussed.

The Alliance already done a lot of work on the affects of nursing shortages on the care industry and need to ensure we are at the table when discussions are held so we can provide as much pertinent information to the DoH as possible.

In these most recent talks we discussed the sort of information that the associations could gather to feed into the various meetings being held by the DoH in an attempt to impact some of the sector difficulties. It was clearly apparent the DoH is aware of the challenges we face.

There are plans for specific meetings with the DoH with the most appropriate Alliance representatives in the short term and the Alliance has been assured there will be a continued working together as other matters emerge.