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Care home inspections up by 225%

Care home inspections have risen by 225% in the wake of the abuse scandals in recent years, according to a report.

EMW, the commercial law firm, says that inspections by health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have more than trebled since 2010.

The report stated that 14,264 inspections had been carried out in 2011-12 (year ending March 31), compared to 4,391 in 2010-11.

The rise in inspections by the CQC follows the toughening of regulations in the wake of exposés about the mistreatment of care home patients by carers in 2010 and 2011.

EMW warned that the tough new regulatory regime poses a huge compliance challenge to the care home sector. Failure to meet new standards can result in fines of up to £50,000 and ultimately closure.

Joe Soul, principal of EMW, said: “The new inspection regime sets very high standards for care homes, which should be expected, but the new inspections stack the odds against care homes.

“Inspection reports are now very black or white – care homes either pass or fail. The grey areas and caveats have been stripped out of the reports. This is a problem, as the inspection report depends very much on the subjective view of the individual inspector. A care home that fails an inspection one day might pass with another inspector.”

Mr Soul added: “CQC inspection reports can have a huge, immediate impact on the reputation of a care home. They’re often the first thing a family will look at if they are looking for a potential home for a family member.”

The report said that the new inspections are longer and completely unannounced. Hundreds more inspectors have been hired, while the standards to which care homes must conform have been overhauled.

Mr Soul continued: “The old inspection regime did need improving: some firms were only receiving an inspection once every three years. However, the new regulatory regime has over-compensated. There’s been a typical bureaucratic response of hiring more inspectors and launching more inspections, but these won’t get to the root of the problems at some care homes.”

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