I know it’s an obsessional bad habit, but I watch the CQC Public Board Meetings every month. I believe that I can tell a lot about what’s going on beneath the surface in our English social care regulator by watching – and listening to – the top team at work. Often it’s what’s not said and the body language that tells the tale.
But then, I think that I can find out much of what’s really happening in a care home by attending a handover. Again, it’s more what’s not said and who is absent that give me clues to follow up.
The recording of the February board meeting wasn’t made available to the public until nearly a week after it took place. Usually it’s on the website the next day. I asked them for an explanation . . . “technical problems” apparently. Yes, it’s a very poor recording, full of little gaps and jumps. Surely it hasn’t been tampered with? Not by our open and transparent regulator? And why didn’t they just tell us on the website why it had been delayed and that it would appear as soon as possible?
Well, even if there was some jiggery pokery going on, there were still the standard courses of evasions and failures to get our teeth into. The CQC’s massage and misuse of its own statistics is normal fare at this banquet. They claim that nearly everything is getting better all the time. Regular claims are that the “timeliness” of inspection reports is getting better, staff are happier, and the CQC is “driving improvement” with their ratings. None of which are true but can superficially be made to appear true. Quite a little trick.
And speaking of tricks, the Chair of Healthwatch England, who is also a CQC board member, advises her colleagues that if – “God forbid” – they should ever live in a care home, “the trick is” to get their dentures engraved with their postcode to guard against losing them. According to her, it’s common practice to clean residents’ dentures all together “in a bucket”. Such practice, she says, is not abuse but just “thoughtlessness”.
The gross abuse at Mendip House (a home for people with learning disabilities) and the CQC’s failure to take “timely” action or respond to whistleblowers (same old story) was roundly condemned in the Safeguarding Adults Review (“not good enough, CQC”). But the chief executive passed over this as a gentle question of “whether” the regulator had acted quickly enough. And no one said a dicky bird.
The board member who still has a full set of incisors was absent from this meeting. He would have bitten into several issues that were evaded. Where was he? He was attending the third day of a fitness to practise hearing arising from the abuse of his mother by a care home. The rest of the board are toothless . . . and, like the Commission itself, almost useless.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.