Care home providers across the UK and Ireland are required by law to provide national standards of quality and safety to people they care for. People in care homes should be cared for in an effectively managed, safe, and compassionate environment.
Care Homes are often monitored and inspected by regulators to ensure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety. Regulators often publish what they find, including performance ratings to help people choose the best care home provider.
Regulators can inspect a care home at any time if there are safeguarding concerns about the care it provides. Their inspections are often unannounced and are usually as a result of concerns that have been raised against the care home or complaints which have not been acted upon by the care home.
Poor levels of care or mismanagement found in care homes can have catastrophic consequences for care home providers when it becomes public knowledge.
In response to safeguarding concerns received by Northern Ireland's watchdog, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) unannounced inspection site visit recently resulted in Ashbrooke Care Home, a 64-bed facility for elderly people being immediately shut down.
The watchdog noted fire risks, defective equipment, and concerns about staffing including a lack of clarity about management of the home as reasons for taking such decisive action.
By law, every care home must have an effective procedure for dealing with complaints and concerns relating to wrongdoing. Effective procedures should include:
A clear policy explaining how care staff, including residents, are able to raise concerns.
A full outline of the roles and responsibilities of those who will deal with any concerns that are raised.
How complaints or concerns are captured, recorded and assessed, and also how they report back on action the care home provider has taken as a result of the concern.
The timeframes for dealing with concerns and responding to the person(s) who raise the concern providing a clear explanation of action taken.
Information reflecting how the care home will support an improved culture of openness and support for staff raising concerns.
Many care home providers appear to be heeding these warnings by increasingly seeking the services of specialised external whistleblowing service providers to encourage their care staff, residents and their families to raise concerns. Disclosures to a whistleblowing service provider can cover a wide range of concerns including those that were highlighted by the watchdog resulting in Ashbrook Care Home being shut down.
Care home providers who invest in an external whistleblowing service will enhance their ability to meet national standards of quality and safety required by law, and at the same time decrease the likelihood of enforcement action from regulated bodies who may determine unacceptable risk of poor care.
If you would like a cost effective quote for an external and independent whistleblowing service please follow this link and provide the requested information or alternatively please contact Sean McAuley, the SeeHearSpeakUp whistleblowing Senior Service Manager by contacting him directly on 01224 049449.