No testing for CQC inspectors: does it risk a breach of the requirement to provide safe care?

The Department of Health and Social Care has made the decision to deny testing to Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors, placing service providers at risk of breaching their requirement to provide a safe care environment.

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New COVID-19 measures announced for care homes in England

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has this week written to English local authorities outlining plans to set up specific homes or units for people being discharged from hospital who are COVID-19 positive or are awaiting a test result.  The DHSC has asked local authorities to identify suitable settings by the end of this week, with a view to having these facilities fully operational by the end of November. 

This plan was hinted at in the Adult Social Care Plan that was published in September 2020, and follows existing requirements for all persons being discharged from hospital to a care home to have a COVID-19 test before discharge, and isolate for 14 days in any case upon admission or re-admission to a care home. 

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Scottish care homes – COVID-19 and human rights

On 26 September 2020, the Herald newspaper reported that “moving elderly from Scots hospitals to homes during coronavirus pandemic may have been illegal.” The article focuses on the discharge from hospitals to care homes of “hundreds” of adults lacking in full legal capacity (ability to make relevant decisions). Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Mental Health and Capacity Law has expressed concern that since the start of the COVID-19 (C-19) pandemic, movement from hospitals to care homes of adults without capacity may have taken place without due legal process and in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). ECHR rights said to be engaged include the right to personal liberty and security and the right to respect for private and family life. The CRPD aspect concerns equal rights for people with disabilities. Particular issues arising include the extent to which steps were taken to ascertain whether particular adults were capable of expressing a wish and whether family members and any legal guardian were consulted before people were moved.    

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Health Minister announces Adult Safeguarding Bill for Northern Ireland

On the 10 of September, the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed his intention to bring forward a new Adult Safeguarding Bill for Northern Ireland, to help protect care home residents and other vulnerable members of society.

This commitment is in response to the first report from an independent review commissioned to examine the health and social care system’s response to care failings at Dunmurry Manor Care Home which had previously been identified.

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Government publishes Adult Social Care Winter 2020/21 Plan

The government has now published its Winter Plan for Adult Social Care.  This detailed document sets out a plan for social care for adults of all ages for the coming months.  The Plan applies to England only.  It notes that COVID-19 will be circulating at the same time as normal winter flu and viruses, so there is likely to be additional pressure on the health and social care sector.  The Plan specifies the role central government will play as well as setting out its expectations for local authorities, NHS organisations and social care providers. 

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Joint statement by CQC & MHS published

In the face of recent criticism of its response to COVID-19, the CQC has issued a joint statement with the Deputy Chief Inspector for Mental Health Services (MHS) setting out their ongoing approach to the pandemic.

The full statement can be read here.

From 6 October, the CQC and MHS will commence a roll out of a new ‘transitional regulatory approach’ (TRA). The first areas to experience this will be adult social care and dental services.

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