We have seen a steady rise recently in care homes seeking our support following CQC inspections which have led to Notices of Proposal (NOPs) being served. A care home closure has disastrous business and human consequences, so what pre-emptive steps can care homes can take to put themselves on a stronger footing to remain operational and avoid any disruption to the lives of their residents and staff?
Our observations on CQC data and evidence from the market
Recent data from the CQC, also evidenced by our own experience, suggests that more homes are being rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ compared to similar periods in previous years.
The total number of beds available in the sector has remained relatively static over the last twelve months, despite the number of older people is going up. Some of the care homes have become commercially unviable due to Covid-19 and had to close, but others have had their registrations cancelled after CQC inspections and enforcement action.
Although the overall number of inspections has fallen dramatically due to Covid-19, the CQC has been prioritising homes with ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ ratings. The first rose from 32% to 50% from 2019 to 2020 and the latter leapt from 6% to 24% for the same period. Reports with overall ratings of ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ both fell.
Why are care home ratings getting worse?
It is impossible to be sure what is driving this trend of fewer services retaining their previous rating while more are having their ratings downgraded and subsequently receiving Notices of Proposal. However, the public scrutiny which the care sector has faced over the past few months is likely to have played a part. The pressure this has put on care home staff, providers, local authorities and regulatory bodies seems to have resulted in increasingly strict inspections rather than a more collaborative approach to remedy any shortcomings.
This is having obvious commercial consequences for care home owners, providers and investors, but there are also very real repercussions as residents and their families have to face the difficult and unwanted upheaval of finding and moving to a new care home. Adapting to a new location, new carers, new facilities can be extremely unsettling so we believe that care home owners, providers and investors should be proactive rather than reactive to CQC inspections and Notices of Proposal.
What are the options for care homes facing inspections?
Anecdotally we at Fulcrum Care have also witnessed CQC and Local Authorities focusing on homes with ‘inadequate’ and ‘requires improvement’ ratings. We understand that care homes operate 24-7-365 and our well-known ability to respond swiftly with emergency support for care homes has helped prevent drastic closures on many occasions.
It must be true that the main aim of any care home is to operate with the care home residents being central to all decision making. Therefore, care homes must be proactive in minimising as much as possible the chance of failing a CQC inspection.
Challenging an unfavourable CQC inspection rating is an option of last resort. However, much better is to be proactive with compliance. Our expert care consultants have broad experience in advising on matters relating to CQC inspections, improvement programmes, care compliance activities, best practice advice or management support to ensure commercial success.
Whatever the nature of your query, please get in touch for an initial discussion on finding the right solution for you and your care home.