Four out of five home care agencies are rated good, but only 3% are deemed outstanding. What are inspectors looking for?
“Absolutely soul-destroying” is how Cath Loates and Sandra Harris remember the day their home care business was rated inadequate. “It knocked the wind out of my sails, out of all of us,” says Loates, the company director.
After working to establish Eboney Home Care in Consett, County Durham, over seven years, Loates and Harris decided to step back from the day-to-day running and hand over the reins to other staff in 2012. “But actually, we should never have taken our eye off the ball,” says Loates.
A 2015 inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found an “absence of robust care planning” and that records “were not fit for purpose” or routinely audited. To set things right, Loates and Harris returned to their hands-on roles to overhaul the policies and procedures.
“As we implemented the changes, we could see what was missing,” says Harris, Eboney’s registered manager. “Although all the care workers work closely with the service users, we still have to hold as much information as we can to do the best for them – and that information just wasn’t there. We had to pull all that back together again.”
Going back to square one paid off. Eboney Home Care was rated good overall following a spot inspection in June 2016, and again in October 2018 – this time with an outstanding rating for caring. Eboney’s care workers are “absolutely over the moon”, says Loates. “They’ve done all the hard work so they’re thrilled to bits that it’s been acknowledged that they’re outstanding. We already knew, but it’s nice to have it written down.”
The majority – 82% – of the 7,191 English home care agencies inspected by the CQC are rated good overall, but just 3% are ranked outstanding.
The bar is deliberately set high, says interim chief inspector Debbie Westhead. “Yes, it’s difficult,” she says. “But with commitment, hard work, creativity and vision, it can be achieved – and it will benefit the people being cared for.”
Read the full article: Hard work, creativity, vision: the essentials of outstanding home care