The challenge of inspecting home care

As the Care Quality Commission launches an inspection programme of of home care services,their Director of Regulatory Development Philip King explains what the regulator is hoping to learn.

Care provided in people's homes provides a challenge for regulators. How do you check up on a service being delivered behind closed doors, often to people who are vulnerable or find it hard to communicate?

People may feel that it is an intrusion if you observe them in such an intimate setting. People's privacy and dignity are included in the standards that we assess, so we have to be mindful of our presence and its impact on people. And you can't be assured that the care you observe is a true reflection of that which is normally delivered.

Recent reports by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Which? found examples of good home care, and we heard positive comments from people about their home care services last year. However, those reports and our own work suggest that too many people receive home care that isn't good enough and - worryingly - that some people do not feel able to report poor services.

And while we favour unannounced inspections, we clearly can't turn up on someone's doorstep hot on the heels of a care worker without notice.