Is Registering the Right Support the right way forward?

In June, CQC set out its approach to registration for providers who support people with learning disabilities and autism. With historic scandals like Winterbourne View and the now unthinkable mass hospitals of the past in mind, residential services for this client group have to meet stringent criteria to ensure they are small-scale and set within a local community. For CQC this means a residential care home for adults with a learning disability or autism should be no bigger than 6 beds. Whilst we applaud the attempt to ensure quality comes in small packages, we have concerns that this provides inconsistency for other care services. There are no such restrictions on services for people with a mental health condition, or physical disability or for older people generally. Nor are there restrictions on supported living services. In addition, we understand that what constitutes a ‘community’ is also open to interpretation. How close can a provider site a new care home to an existing one? It seems two care homes of six beds each cannot be next door to each other. One provider is awaiting clarification on whether it could be in the same street.

As an Association we encourage and promote active involvement of all people using social care in their local community and CQC’s current KLOEs monitor this. However, there must be a limit to the restrictions a care provider is put under, particularly in an economic environment where cash for care and care staff are increasingly difficult to come by. It’s also important to recognise that Winterbourne View happened because of a lack of leadership not just because it was a large and inappropriate setting. There is a huge difference between a care home of any size and a ‘campus style setting’.