The National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) has published details of the standards it will be enforcing throughout the country under the remit of the Care Standards Bill.
The NCSC is the independent watchdog set up by the government to oversee the quality of long term care delivery.
Under the legislation:
The NCSC will conduct regular inspections of businesses which are registered as care homes or domiciliary care agencies.
A domiciliary care agency is defined as an operation which arranges for personal care to be delivered to people in their own homes. A care home is considered to be one which provides accommodation and nursing or personal care – but it does not include hospitals or children’s homes.
As part of the inspection process, the NCSC can require businesses to provide it with any information it deems relevant. Inspections can be authorised to take place at any time.
It will be an offence for managers of care homes or domiciliary care agencies not to register with the NCSC. A second offence under this section of the Bill will be punishable by imprisonment.
However, while in the long term registration will be compulsory, in the immediate future NCSC is pushing for voluntary registration. It aims to achieve this as local authorities will not be able to use unregistered care suppliers or providers.
Regisistered businesses will have to make a yearly report of their activities to the National Care Commission.
As part of the process, the NCSC is to set up the General Social Care Council (GSCC), which will be responsible for promoting high standards of conduct, practice and training in registered businesses.
The Council will keep a register of social care workers, which will include all those working in care homes and those supplied by agencies to deliver care services in people’s homes.
Those exempt from this ruling are individuals working for themselves in the provision of domiciliary care services, as the NCSC believes that informal care arrangements would be disrupted by registration.
The GSCC may also set out codes of practice with which registered social care workers must comply.
It will also be able to recommend and inspect training courses and exams for social care workers. Its remit will extend to encouraging workers to take appropriate courses, with the potential to offer financial help if required.