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More than a quarter of home care services ‘substandard’

 By Vivienne Russell | 13 February 2013

Late or cancelled carer visits are a frequent failing of home care services, the Care Quality Commission said today.

The health and social care watchdog’s review of users’ experience of 250 services found just over a quarter (26%) did not meet national standards.

Chief among the areas of concern were carers running late for appointments or cancelling them without giving any notice. People also often received no advance warning of changes in care workers.

In several instances, care plans had not been updated for several years and inspectors found evidence that the risks associated with a person’s care needs or medical conditions had not been assessed. The CQC’s findings, which gathered the views of more than 4,600 people, are collated in its Not just a number report.

CQC chief executive David Behan said: ‘People have a right to expect to be treated as an individual, to be able to exercise choice, and to make sure their carers are aware of their specific care needs. We found plenty of evidence of this. However, we also found elements of poor care which happen too often.’

The watchdog is urging care service providers to work more closely with commissioners to find solutions to common problems, such as missed appointments and last-minute staff changes. Systems should also be put in place to monitor the impact of missed or late visits.

Bridget Warr, chief executive of the UK Home Care Association, said: ‘People’s desire to remain at home for as long as possible requires high quality, reliable home care services which are respectful of individual needs and which safeguard their wellbeing and choice first time, every time. However, we cannot be complacent when for a minority of people this does not always happen consistently.’

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