Coun Muriel Weisz guest column: Nottinghamshire County Council is committed to driving up care home standards

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We have all seen on national television in recent months a number of disturbing cases of adult abuse in care homes which have shocked us all.

Concerns about the quality of care and support for vulnerable people living in care homes have never been so high on the national agenda.

As chairman of the Nottinghamshire County Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Committee I am committed to driving up standards of care in all local care homes and tackling any form of adult abuse both within and outside the care home sector. Whilst the majority of local care homes provide good standards of care, there are a small number where the standards are poor and these are our focus.

The council has introduced a task force with health partners to give intensive support to failing care homes to drive up and sustain standards, and help avoid the need for enforcement procedures by the Care Quality Commission which might lead to the provider closing their services.

We work with care home providers to plan and agree the required actions for improvement with clearly defined timescales. Key targets include making sure they have in place a suitably trained and qualified registered manager and appropriately trained nursing staff for those with nursing support.

The council and health partners are also trialling a new approach to how we audit standards of care in all county care homes. Participating homes are required to demonstrate positive outcomes for their residents and not just show they have the right policies and procedures in place.

They will also be required to carry out their own checks to pick up on any emerging problems and give them a greater understanding of what we expect from them. We will be rolling this out to all care homes if this proves successful.

There is only so much we can do locally and there are issues such as a nursing shortage which need to be addressed nationally. We are currently lobbying national health leads to improve the skill mix and numbers of nursing staff in care home sector. It is crucial all national and local agencies involved in the sector work together to make sure real long-term positive changes are made.