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Care home inspections

15/09/2011

All care homes in Scotland will now be subject to an unannounced inspection at least once a year.

Regulations will be introduced to Parliament to specify the minimum frequency of inspections and the fact that all inspections will be unannounced.

That was one of the key commitments made in a Parliamentary statement on the quality of care for older people by Cabinet Secretary for Health Nicola Sturgeon today.

The additional level of scrutiny is intended to ensure that standards and quality of care do not deteriorate between inspections. Inspectors are also able to increase the number of times they visit a care home over a year should they be concerned about performance.

The necessary resources will be put in place to support the additional inspection activity and the budget for Social Care and Social Work Inspection Scotland will enable the organisation to maintain current staffing levels.

It was also confirmed today that the day to day working name for Social Care and Social Work Inspection Scotland will be the Care Inspectorate.

In addition Ms Sturgeon updated Parliament on the restructuring of Southern Cross. The Scottish Government, in partnership with COSLA and others has been working to ensure continuity of care for all Scottish residents. Work to seek new operators for all Southern Cross properties is now largely complete and the registration process has begun.

Ms Sturgeon said:

"I believe that in general care services in Scotland are of a good quality and respond well to the needs of both older people and the people who care for them. I also believe that the arrangements in place for the regulation and inspection of care homes are fundamentally robust. However I have also been clear that there are aspects of the care regime in Scotland that are worth further consideration.

"That is why I have today announced a strengthening of the regulation and inspection regime and work to provide protection against the challenges presented by circumstances such as the failure of Southern Cross.

"I recognise that until the transfer of former Southern Cross homes to the new operators is complete that there will be anxiety and concern. But I want to reassure people that we will continue to work with both Southern Cross and the landlords, as well as COSLA and the inspectorate to ensure we get the best result for all Scottish residents.

"This is not the end of our work and over the next months I will set out my plans for the integration of health and social care for older people, work on self directed support and further work on quality and standards of care."

Currently all highly performing care home services with a low risk assessment are subject to at least one unannounced inspection every 24 months. If a care home service does not fall within this category or has a high risk assessment, then it is subject to at least two unannounced inspections every year.

The proposed changes will see all care homes now subject to at least one unannounced inspection annually.

The Care Inspectorate inspection plan sets out the frequency and nature of inspections.

This is the minimum inspection frequency for care homes. The Care Inspectorate may inspect more often where there are concerns about the quality and standards of service following alerts such as notification from other agencies, complaints and variation requests from providers.

The proposed arrangements on the frequency and nature of inspections will be placed on a statutory basis. Regulations will be brought forward shortly to specify both the frequency of inspection and to make clear that all inspections of care homes settings will be on an unannounced basis.

The Care Inspectorate has taken on the functions of The Social Work Inspection Agency, the Care Commission (with the exception of independent healthcare regulation) and HMIE's functions in respect of the inspection of child protection and the development of children services inspection.

The organisation takes the lead in improving the quality of social care, social work and children's services. It will achieve this by regulating and inspecting; assessing risk; providing guidance and advice; influencing policy and standards; supporting improvement, and reporting publicly.

SCSWIS will remain the name of the organisation for legal purposes.

Page updated: Thursday, September 15, 2011