Liz Norton gave a presentation to the Care Homes Sub Committee at Highland Council to clarify the Care Commission’s role in regulating care homes and to highlight how it will work with care home owners, including the council, to help them meet the Standards. She also outlined that while the Care Commission is committed to enforcing the National Care Standards, and taking appropriate action where necessary, it will adopt a sensible and flexible approach to homes which are unable to fully comply with the standards, but are otherwise of a good quality.
Following her presentation, she said:
"Highland Council, as care home providers, deserve congratulations for facing up to the challenge of taking their care homes into the 21st century. We know that the care received by some older people is of major concern, not just locally here in the Highlands, but nationally.
“The primary purpose of care regulation is to drive up standards. Many services are good, but we are concerned about driving up standards and ensuring everyone consistently gets good quality care. I want to make it clear that the Care Commission is not in the business of shutting down good care homes. We are committed to ensuring compliance with the National Care Standards across all sectors because they are in place to improve the quality of life for older people and to let them know what they are entitled to expect from care homes.
“However, we are also committed to taking a sensible and flexible approach to homes that have taken all possible steps to fully comply with the standards and are otherwise of a good quality. Such cases will be treated on an individual basis with Care Commission Officers assessing the overall quality of the home and whether sufficient steps have been taken to attempt to comply with standards within a reasonable timescale. At all times the best interests of the service users will be at the heart of regulation.”
The National Care Standards, which were published by Scottish Ministers in 2001 and came into effect in April 2002, state that by 31 December 2007 all existing care homes will be able to offer single rooms to residents should they request one. The Standards are based on the principles of promoting dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential, equality and diversity for all older people in care homes.
Ms Norton added:
“The standards have been introduced by Scottish Ministers to help improve the quality of life of older people and highlight the importance of privacy, dignity, choice and independence for people living in care homes. Care home providers have had more than five years to plan for these changes so it is important to remember that this has not happened overnight.
“The standards are unequivocal about the basic right to a single room for those who want it and the Care Commission is committed to ensuring that this crucial element of the standards is met. As such, we are actively encouraging all care homes to ensure they have in place an action plan to be able to offer this by 31 December 2007.”