13th August 2015

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News and Comment from Roy Lilley
I looked at the screen. I couldn't believe it. It's not often I'm lost for words... Ground Hog Day.
Regular readers will remember, just before Xmas 2014, the CQC closed Merok Park Care Home in Surrey. It was bungled. Ambulances were delayed; it was a freezing night and less than 48hrs later an 85 year old man died.
Another care home resident died after a move from the nearby Grantley House, she was 81yrs. In both cases relatives blamed the move for the deaths. Any reasonable person would conclude they are right.
It took the CQC 8 months to publish their reasons why draconian, action was necessary. There was a huge row and the CQC looked pretty stupid; the custodian of compassionate and quality care shipping frail elderly people onto the freezing streets.
I don't know how to tell you this; it's happened again. I'll pause whilst that sinks in. They've done it again! Closed a care home and shipped out the patients under the cover of darkness. Perhaps they think no one will notice?
This time it is the Old Village School care home in Bedfordshire. Relatives said it was like 'scenes from a horror film'.
Do you know what? I feel sorry for the CQC. Like the residents, they too are victims of a dysfunctional system Here's why:
If they judge a care home to be poor they go through a palaver of notices giving the operator time to fix what's wrong. If it doesn't happen they can close the place. To do that is a minefield of problems; owners get lawyers, it can get ugly.
Seeking a closure order is done through the courts. Following an application the Court will probably issue the piece of paper after lunch, or mid-afternoon. Once the CQC have it, they have to close the place. There is no grace period. Either it's dangerous and should be closed or not.
That means 'shipping people out' won't start until the evening. How well the 'shipping out' is done is down the local authority; not the CQC. They don't inspect 'shipping out'.
Relatives are unlikely to be informed until the last minute because if they are told and the closure order is refused there are all sorts of ramifications about defamation.
The CQC could put in a hit squad and sort the place out... no. That is the obvious, humane solution but the CQC can't do obvious and humane. They have no power to take over a care home.
The CQC is mired in law, regulation and desperate not to say anything that gets them sued... so they don't say anything worth saying and look even more gormless.
There you have my guess on the reasons why old people are shifted about; without consent or choice, by people who don't want to shift them, to places that probably don't want them (there isn't much spare capacity in the system), where the relatives may not approve of and why I fully expect some more of our frail, fellow citizens will die.
This whole rotten, useless system needs demolished. The CQC are doing more harm than good and they either won't or can't see it.
They think it is their duty to root-out poor care. It is but they can't stop poor care. If there is reason to issue a 'notice to improve', the improvement should take place there and then. Leaving vulnerable people, dirty, hungry and ignored, hoping for something to get better is ludicrous.
Waiting for process and closing a care home, when the overwhelming voice of common-sense says;
ship out the managers, not the residents,
...is unanswerable.
The CQC Board must go to Ministers and be honest; it is not possible to do the job humanely, with the dignity and care needed.
A simple change to the regulations, to allow a 'closed' care home to be taken over and operated on an interim basis by social services, the NHS or nominees, the owners charged the full cost where it is recoverable, is entirely within the gift of Ministers and Parliament.  It happens with 'failing Trusts'.
An arrangement with the Courts to get closure orders at 8am, to give more time in daylight hours, doable. A legal obligation to tell next of kin what is imminent would avoid defamation issues and publish reports within 30 days would stop the CQC looking so klutz.
The right thing and the brave thing would be for the CQC to find some cojones and tell the Tinker-Man; inspection doesn't work... keep the care homes open but close us down.
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