Norman Lamb: Regular financial checks needed for largest care homes

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Care and support minister Norman Lamb has announced early-warning financial checks on care providers in an aim to protect care users.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be responsible for the new measures on the largest care companies - including those providing care in people's own homes.

The CQC will demand; regular financial and relevant performance information; submission of a ‘sustainability plan' to manage any risk; an independent business review to help troubled providers return to financial stability; and information from the provider to enable the CQC to support local authorities in managing a provider failure.

According to the Department of Health, a provider in financial trouble can be a predictor of poorer quality care.

It said identifying issues early, regular inspections and customer feedback can help stamp out quality failures.
Consultation responses - that ended in March - broadly supported this system.

Lamb said: "Everyone who receives care and support wants to know they will be protected if the company in charge of their care goes bust.

"The fear and upset that the Southern Cross collapse caused to care home residents and families was unacceptable. This early warning system will bring reassurance to people in care and will allow action to be taken to ensure care continues if a provider fails."

The plans will produce a system of central oversight for the 50 to 60 largest and most difficult-to-replace care providers.

The DoH said in the event of a failure of these large homes it was unreasonable to expect individual local authorities to manage regionally felt impact.

Local authorities however will remain responsible without additional support for smaller provider circumstances.

David Behan, chief executive of CQC, said: "These are important measures that provide early warning of potential failures in care homes.

"Set alongside appointment plans of a chief inspector of social care and support, tougher registration requirements on social care providers and new ratings system, these measures will help ensure risks are identified and acted upon as early as possible."

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