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Standards bearer

The rationale behind the new Care Standards Bill is to improve the

standard of care services nationally in both public and private sectors and

to ensure that vulnerable adults get good care.

A national care standards commission will be established which will

register and regulate businesses providing care in institutional or

domiciliary settings.

The commission will report to the Secretary of State on care matters and

suggest imp-rovements to care delivery and standards.

It will also actively encourage improve-ment in care standards and put

information on care services into the public domain.

A general social care council will be set up to register, regulate and

arrange training for those who deliver care in both institutional and

domiciliary settings.

The council will promote high standards of conduct and practice and

training in care homes and domiciliary care agencies.

Each body will work under the direction of the Secretary of State, so

neither body can force through changes which will impose costs on the

Exchequer.

Which businesses will be regulated?

The standards commission will regulate care homes and domiciliary care

agencies, including not-for-profit enterprises in the voluntary and public

sectors as well as for-profit enterprises.

A care home provides accommodation and personal or nursing care for people

who are or have been suffering from ill-ness or who are suffering from

disability or infirmity but does not include hospitals and clinics.

A domiciliary care agency arranges for personal care to be provided at

home for people who are suffering from illness, disability or infirmity.

Regulation in practice

It will be an offence for those carrying on business as or managing care

home or domicil-iary care agencies to provide services with-out

registering.

Repeat offences, or those committed after cancellation of registration,

could lead to imprisonment.

A registration may be cancelled if the terms are breached or if the person

holding the registration or man-aging the business is subsequently

convicted of a relevant offence.

The commission will be able to prosecute those who do not comply with or

who contravene the terms of their registration or who falsely claim they

are registered.

Managers of care homes or domiciliary care agencies can be prosecuted

along with their employers if an offence is committed concerning their

agreement or as the result of their neglect.

Sticks and carrots in regulation

A register of care homes and domiciliary care agencies will be kept by the

National Care Commission and will be available to the public.

The compulsory registration of domiciliary care agencies will not start

immediately that the act comes into force but, once the act is in force,

local authorities will not be able to contract with unregistered care

suppliers or providers for care services.

Since the bill was published, the Government has indicated it will amend

it when it reaches the Commons to provide for compulsory regulation of all

domiciliary care agencies, not just those which want to provide local

auth-ority services.

What aspects of care services will be regulated?

The individuals and businesses that carry on or manage care homes and

domiciliary care agencies will be regulated. The premises used as care

homes and the facilities and services to be provided by them and the

premises used as domiciliary care agencies will be regulated.

The operational management and control of care homes and domiciliary care

agen-cies will be regulated, as will the number of staff who work in care

homes, the training they are required to under-take and the categories of

staff employed.

Minimum standards of care

The minister responsible for care homes and domiciliary care agencies may

prepare and publish minimum standards which are to apply to them. The

social care council may set out codes of practice which registered social

care workers should comply with. These codes of practice will be in the

public domain.

Monitoring and controlling standards

The commission will be able to inspect care homes and domiciliary care

agencies without notice. An inspector can examine and copy records, remove

evidence and question both staff and residents. Reports of inspections

which take place must be made public.

The commission will be able to demand from a care home or domiciliary care

agency information which it considers relevant and registered businesses

will have to make yearly reports of their activities to the commission.

Which individuals will be registered?

The council will keep a register of social care workers, which includes

people working in care homes and those supplied by agencies and delivering

care services in people&#39s homes.

To be registered as a social care worker, an individual must be of good

character, good physical and mental health and must satisfy the competence

and training requirements laid down both at the time of registration and

subsequently.

The register of social care workers will be open to inspection by the public.

Who will not have to register?

An individual who operates as an individual and works for him/herself in

providing domiciliary care services will not be obliged to register as a

social care worker. The supply of informal care might be seriously affected

if informal carers were obliged to register.

Who will be barred from registering to give care?

The Secretary of State will maintain a register of people who are regarded

as unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults, that is, adults needing

personal care at home or in a care home.

Operators of care homes and domiciliary care agen-cies will have to report

any individual who they believe should be included on the register as will

agencies providing supply staff.

Anyone wanting to employ a person to work with vulnerable adults will be

obliged to check the register and may not offer work with vulnerable adults

to anyone on the register.

Training and competence issues

The council will be able to approve training courses and to arrange for

exams to follow these courses for people to demonstrate their competence in

providing care services.

It will be able to visit and inspect places where courses and exams are

conducted. The council is also to encourage care workers to take relevant

courses, possibly offering financial help if required, and provide courses.

Where the act will apply

The act will apply to England and Wales. It will be up to the governments

of Scotland and Northern Ireland to decide whether they adopt similar

measures.

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