Guide to managing care home closures published
A good practice guide has been published to help minimise the impact on people, and their families and carers, in the event of a care home closing in response to poor care, an emergency or market exit.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has worked in partnership with NHS England (NHSE), the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Care Provider Alliance (CPA) to agree the guide – Managing care home closures – which sets out how local and national organisations should work together in order to co-ordinate action, avoid duplication and prevent confusion for people using services, their families and carers, care home providers and their managers and staff.
The guide was developed following an event co-hosted by CQC and NHSE earlier this year to explore how unplanned care home closures are managed, learning from the experience of residents and families. At this event it was agreed that the system needed an agreed set of essential principles, underpinned by a framework of actions, to ensure the needs of people using services, their families and carers remain at the heart of the closure process.
Now, when a care home closure situation arises, organisations including local authorities – which have the lead responsibility for people with care and support needs – clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHSE, CQC, providers and partners will be expected to use an appropriate and detailed checklist to ensure the process is co-ordinated well. Recommendations in the guide include:
• Appointing a co-ordinator within the lead local authority for families, carers or other advocates who will ensure there is an accurate list of all residents and their needs, together with up-to-date names, addresses and telephone numbers of family representatives and who will seek fullest involvement in the relocation process.
• Placing a poster in the care home with key information about the planned closure, including contact details for residents, carers, families and staff to refer queries, questions and complaints to.
• Appointing a transport co-ordinator within the lead local authority to act as a single point of contact and oversee timely moves; e.g. to notify ambulance staff in good time so that residents are not kept waiting for transport outside the home and are helped to move only in daylight hours.
• Assessments of residents’ health and care needs should start to be considered straight away, rather than waiting for an urgent closure legal notice to be served, as arrangements can be explored in the meantime.
CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said care homes were people’s homes and they had every right to expect to live there for as long as they liked.
“When a home closes unexpectedly, this can be a real shock for people, either for themselves or a loved one, which is why this will never be a decision that is taken lightly,” said Ms Sutcliffe.
“As the regulator, it is CQC’s job to report on the quality of care that we find and our expectation is that providers will swiftly get to grips with any problems we identify.
“Sadly, there are sometimes urgent situations when it is absolutely in people’s best interests for us to use our powers so that people can move to a better environment quickly to experience the safe, high quality and compassionate care they deserve. These are rare events but they have to be managed well with the needs of residents, their families and carers guiding the actions of the different organisations and professionals involved.
“Clearly defined roles and responsibilities, consistent communication and making sure people’s wishes and requirements are fully taken into account are vital to ensure the impact on people is as comfortable as possible. I am grateful to everyone who has been involved in developing the guide, particularly those who shared the experience of families affected by previous care home closures. I am confident that the guide will strengthen how organisations work together in these difficult circumstances for the benefit of those using services.”
- The Managing care home closures good practice guide is available to view online here: www.nhs.uk/quickguides