What standards can you expect when receiving a care package?
Every person receiving a package of care should expect to receive a good quality service that enables them to live safely at home. There are minimum expectations of this service; the care worker will turn up, be competent, carry out the care safely, and will treat the person with respect and kind consideration.
Each care provider must have a legal Statement of Purpose, as required by the Health & Social Care Act (Regulations Act) (2008) Regulations 2014, setting out the type of service they provide, to which user group, and in which area. The organisation may also have a Vision and Mission statement on their website which may further expand upon the ethos and culture of the organisation, giving a greater feel for why you should choose them over another provider.
Each person should have their own care plan that gives an overview of the person, background and goals, with clear guidance on how tasks are to be carried out in line with the person’s wishes. This care plan should then be used to measure the success of the service, and updated as needs change. In addition, each person should be given a Service User Guide containing basic information such as who is in charge, who to raise concerns with, and the complaints procedure in the event that you are unhappy with your care. These are the key documents that you should familiarise yourself with to know what the benchmark is, and so to know, then, when action should be taken.
What do our regulators say?
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) expects care providers to have comprehensive systems and processes in place to deliver the service they have been entrusted to provide. In addition, the organisation must have robust governance systems in place to monitor their own performance at regular intervals and take action to maintain safe standards of care. How does CQC do this? When they carry out an inspection, CQC inspectors will ask 5 key questions:-
1. Is it Safe?
2. Is it Effective?
3. Is it Caring?
4. Is it Responsive?
5. Is it Well-Led?
Service users and their relatives have a right to expect that their care will be delivered in a safe manner by staff who care about them, led by an organisation with fit and proper person employed, and who will adapt the care as needs change. It should go without saying that all staff should be kind, caring and respectful, and can deliver the care competently and effectively. However, what happens when this isn’t the case?
Examples of unacceptable care
Some issues may seem ‘minor’ in comparison to others, but the expectation is that if it is causing distress to the service user or their relative, then the care standard is unacceptable and should be addressed. Examples of unacceptable care are as follows:-
- rough handling/physical/sexual abuse
- any form of discrimination, goading or mimicking
- borrowing money/stealing and other forms of financial abuse
- neglect/not carrying out the duties as detailed on the care plan
- missed care visits
- out of date care plans and other supportive documents that could put the person at risk
- staff using your possessions/not showing respect for your home
What to do next
Even the most reputable organisations will have times when the service may fall below their own acceptable standards. It is always best to raise issues at the earliest opportunity and not let things fester. A good care organisation will listen to your concerns and work with you to sort out the issues.
What you may like to consider next is how the organisation responds to your concerns; did they apologise? accept responsibility? take steps to rectify the issue? Are the concerns ongoing? is the response they are taking proportionate? In all instances, you should contact the Registered Manager or someone nominated at the organisation to discuss your concerns. Put your concerns in writing using the complaints procedure, or when you email, copy in a more senior member of staff so that concerns cannot be ignored. If you do not get a satisfactory response with the care organisation you may be able to raise concerns directly with whoever commissions your care (i.e., social worker, GP) or through an independent advocate. If you are concerned a criminal offence has been committed, call the police.
As stated, it is always best to raise concerns at the earliest opportunity. Things may go wrong because of miscommunication, a lack of training, or (in minor cases) that someone has simply forgotten to do something. What is of crucial importance is your relationship with your provider who should listen to your concerns, and work together to resolve issues.
In the event that you cannot jointly resolve the issues, you can ask for a change of care provider. CQC does not investigate complaints, but will look to see if the provider is complying with Regulation 16: Receiving and acting on complaints, and Regulation 20 Duty of Candour (openness and willingness to change).
If you have any questions or concerns about your care, be sure to contact the Registered Manager.