Wednesday, 10 December 2014
Regulation needs a human touch
I have little doubt that the CQC decisions in relation to the Merok Park Nursing Home in Banstead Surrey were grounded in very real concerns for the well being of the residents. The media talks about, 'people were being washed in cold water, were in inappropriate beds, and that there was an overpowering smell of urine in the home. The last CQC inspection report also found that staff that worked there were not given criminal records checks'.
Now, we are the last people to resist action being taken to protect vulnerable older people who are being neglected or abused, and it does sound as though Merok Park merited urgent action. But we can't help but question the logic of moving vulnerable older people at 7pm on a cold night, involving uniformed police officers, and with apparently little advance notice for relatives. That feels like institutional abuse on top of the abuse those older people may have already suffered.
I fully accept that the options available to CQC are limited in such situations, but surely it must have been possible to get the local authority to at least draft in emergency staff to run the place until the closure could have been arranged over a longer, and better planned timescale. Particularly as it is well known that sudden changes of environment can have dangerous consequences for older people.
In the last few years High Court judges have pointed out that adult safeguarding should not take actions that merely make someone safe, but then leave them miserable. And they have pointed out that local authorities should be satisfied, before taking any action, that the impact was going to improve and not worsen the situation. It seems as though the 'new' CQC needs to think about these messages if they are not to end up becoming the 'old' CQC once again.