CQC Consider Using Hidden Cameras to Monitor Care Services

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) chief inspector of adult social care Andrea Sutcliffe has said that the inspectorate will discuss using mystery shoppers and hidden cameras to more effectively monitor social care services across the country. She added that there was a requirement to “consider the privacy and dignity of people receiving care” and that a decision to use such tactics would not be considered lightly.

Ms Sutcliffe who was appointed to the lead role within the CQC in July 2013 said that she had got the idea of hidden cameras particularly from the BBC Panorama expose on the Winterbourne View care home in Bristol in 2011.

Ms Sutcliffe has proposed a number of other changes to be considered in a CQC document ‘A Fresh Start for the Regulation and Inspection of Adult Social Care’ published in October.

Other plans for reform include changing the make-up of the inspection teams and recruiting a number of ‘experts by experience’ who will be users of care services, possibly family members. To date CQC have used general inspectors, but Ms Sutcliffe said that members of the public who have first-hand experience of the care sector will be able to offer a different and valuable dimension to the process of inspections. It has also been proposed that an ‘OFSTED’ style rating system be introduced where care services will be ranked as either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. Inspections will be based on five key requirements: assessing whether services are safe, caring, well-led and responsive to people’s needs. Ms Sutcliffe also said that services that had been rated as outstanding or good would be subjected to random inspections ahead of the time they might be expecting them to ensure standards remain high and to reduce the risk of complacency amongst staff.

Stricter monitoring of care providers is another feature of the report. From April 2015, and subject to relevant legislation, the CQC will monitor the financial records of 50 to 80 of the larger UK care providers to ensure that a situation similar to the bankruptcy of the Southern Cross Care Home Group does not reoccur.

More robust assessment of companies making an application to offer care services will also be undertaken to ensure that new providers of care services have the right values and motivations for providing care.

A full public consultation on the CQCs paper will be held in spring 2014.

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