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Christmas care home inspections branded 'intrusive'

The threat of care home inspections by regulators over the festive period has been criticised.

The Registered Nursing Home Association described inspections on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day as a “step too far”.

It was responding to an announcement by the Care Quality Commission that its inspectors would continue to carry out unannounced visits throughout the Christmas holidays.

CQC operations director Amanda Sherlock said: “It is important that our inspections don’t just happen on weekdays but also happen when there is the most stress in the system, this includes evenings, weekends and particularly over periods of the year such as Christmas and the New Year.”

But the RNHA described inspections in care homes on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day as “unnecessarily intrusive and disruptive”.

RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell said: “We find it rather strange and not a little galling that the CQC should think it appropriate to send in the inspectors for purely routine purposes while care home residents are looking forward to their Christmas lunch and other activities.

“Our staff will be under particular pressure on this day of all days, and could certainly do without inspectors snapping at their heels. It is also something of an imposition on our residents to find CQC bureaucrats wandering around in what is, in effect, their home on a day when they just want to relax and enjoy themselves.”

Readers' comments (17)

  • tinkerbell

    whilst i agree that care homes must be inspected regularly at a varying times to get a picture of what is going on overall, i think that christmas day should be a time of privacy for all so that the residents can enjoy some respite too from continual intrusion. Meal times should be particularly 'protected' from inspectors wandering around.

    It seems to go from all or nothing, one extreme to another and not necessarily for the right reasons.

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  • one would imagine in a Utopic world they should lead by example.
    It seems they haven't got a clue!
    Leave everybody alone on Christmas Day! Such intrusion will achieve nothing. However, it is no excuse for a day off for these guys. they should spend eight and a half hours in their offices catching up with their paperwork and tidying up and cleaning and then having a day off in lieu just like nurses have to!

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  • I do not know whether they actually intend to do these inspections however care should be delivered as well on any day/night 24/7/365.
    For too long organisations have had prior warning of inspections. They need to know that an inspector could descend at any moment and work as they always should.

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  • I`ll eat my hat if any CQC Inspectors actually turn up on Christmas Day, or any other "holiday" for that matter.(Please post and let us all know if they do)

    Leave the residents alone to enjoy a small sherry and a mince pie in peace !!!!!!!!!!!!

    There are plenty of other opportunities to visit during the year.

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  • Tipperary Tim | 21-Dec-2012 4:22 pm

    small sherry? don't tell me it is rationed! that does that go for the wine, beer and champagne, Bailey's and coffee and liqueurs as well on Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and every other day of the year too? I wouldn't be surprised as sounds so frightfully British! It seems just because you have to live and work in a care home (which should be home from home in principle) one is subject to severe and totally unreasonable restrictions.

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  • I totally agree that these inspections should take place as its times like xmas that the basic care needs of clients get neglected due to staff shortages as management not wanting to pay for the staffing ratio's that should be in place. These vulnerable clients of society should feel safe and by having such on the spot inspections whether it be for half an hour to all day should help make family and clients feel safe.

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  • "... care should be delivered as well on any day/night 24/7/365."

    Anonymous | 21-Dec-2012 4:06 pm

    of course it should and Christmas Day is no exception but it should not necessitate an inspection to make sure this is being carried (in an ideal world perhaps!)

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  • It doesn't matter when they are inspected. A lot of care homes (and hospitals, so that there's no discrimination here) get away with appalling care and seem to come out of inspections quite well.

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  • The majority of care homes go up a gear during the x.mas period with entertainment, outings.meals out etc.Christmas day staff will ensure everyone has a fantastic time and give up their time away from their families as a matter of duty.An inspection during this time is an intolerable intrusion for both residents,families and staff.I have been a manager for 20yrs and no way are CQC ever seen out of office hours.I agree with Tipperary Tim ,will eat my hat if we had an inspection x.mas day too !!!,they barely manage an inspection 3 yearly........

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  • well I do hope they are offered a glass of sherry too if they do just happen to drop by.

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  • Anonymous | 22-Dec-2012 3:30 pm

    "no way are CQC ever seen out of office hours"

    I know they work outside 9-5 hours as, when they inspected our Trust a couple of years ago, there were several occasions where they made unannounced inspections at night. Maybe it is linked to their initial findings and whether there are general issues such as obvious staffing.

    As for the article, while I agree that Christmas should not be avoided by the Inspectors (those who disagree...do you include Easter as well, Bank Holidays etc?), I do not feel it would pain a realistic picture as Homes and hospitals go all out for the Day as there are significantly more relatives and visitors around and the staff are more likely to make that extra effort. However, as far as I am aware, the CQC doesn't just do one visit so it shouldn't affect it. The CQC should work 24/7, 365 days a year, the same as the whole care profession and should not stop just because of holidays

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  • if it is busy then I expect they will help out, serving the food, drinks and generally enjoying the festive activities.

    I don't care when they turn up, their reports are meaningless anyway.

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  • Hat, salt and pepper, at the ready folks.

    Any sign of the CQC on Christmas Day?????

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  • Anonymous | 23-Dec-2012 5:16 pm

    "their reports are meaningless anyway."

    I have to disagree with you there. If it wasn't for the CQC and their scathing Report on my Trust regarding staffing levels and that the Trust had cut too many nursing posts making staffing levels unsafe, then the Trust wouldn't have been forced to take on about 70 Qualified Nurses. Instead, they would have continued cutting regardless of patient safety and staff safety. Up till then I had wondered how effective the CQC were...now I know and I hope they continue

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  • can't any responsibility and trust be placed on the staff to do their job properly, even on Christmas Day? and doing it properly in my view means, on such a special occasion, going beyond the highest quality of basic care to ensure that
    everybody looks smart and presentable, the lonely are comforted, those able to enjoy themselves are having a good time, those who wish to attend church or a service in the home are enabled to do so, they have a good lunch in the company of their relatives and friends (possibly for a small charge for the visitors), and most importantly they pour the sherry and champagne, hand round the nuts, pull the crackers and don the paper hats!
    does all of this, on Christmas Day really require the presence of some inspectors who claim to know more about the standards of healthcare and needs of the residents than the professionals themselves?

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  • I agree that inspections should be carried out at any time and unannounced. Care should be good all the time not just when we have inspections. The reports are variable and if a home is not performing well, then the owners will cover up the fact and bully the staff or even have staff in collusion with the owners. Vulnerable residents (or patients in hospitals of course), may not complain as they don't want to rock the boat or influence their own treatment. Good for the CQC in this matter. They also need to earn their credibility so get cracking with improving care. Hurrah.

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  • if professionals and managers acted responsibly and did the jobs they have been trained for and entrusted and paid to do at all times there would be no need for all of these inspections and especially on a holiday such as Christmas Day! One wonders just how these staff managed to get such positions of responsibility in the first place if they are not capable of carrying out their duties adequately.

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