Care Quality Commission
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CQC statement on Panorama

“CQC carries out an unannounced inspection of every care and nursing home in England every year – more often if we believe people may be at risk. This system of regulation can and does identify poor care which CQC then takes action to tackle."

"However, what it cannot do is to identify and stamp out deliberately concealed abuse. By its very nature, concealed abuse takes place away from the eyes of managers and inspectors and can even take place, as in this case, in a well run care home. Abuse of vulnerable people is a criminal matter, and is rightly handled by the police and the courts.

“CQC has taken action against a number of providers where a current risk to people has been identified. In this case, the risk had been dealt with by the removal of the care staff involved by the home. CQC’s role was to make sure residents were protected once police and social services had acted to deal with the abuse shown in the hidden camera footage. CQC acted quickly and appropriately in this regard.

“It is the responsibility of the people who run and work in care homes to make sure they meet essential standards of care and to deliver good, safe care. CQC’s role is to check this through unannounced inspections and take action where we see poor care. Care staff, homes, councils, police and other stakeholders all have a part to play in the prevention of elder abuse. CQC also relies heavily on information from people who receive care and their families and friends. Anyone who sees evidence of abuse should call our whistleblower hotline.

“None of this detracts in any way from the appalling experience Maria Worroll had at this home. CQC welcomes the custodial sentence handed down to Jonathan Aquino. His behaviour was criminal abuse, and as such has rightly been handled robustly by the police and the courts. The sentence sends a strong message that it is unacceptable to abuse an elderly person in your care. We hope it will act as a powerful deterrent to others.”

Notes to editors

The report on Ash Court Care Centre published on the CQC’s website in October 2011 details the findings of two unannounced inspections (in June 2011 and August 2011) which took place following information received by CQC from Camden Council about the incident involving Maria Worroll.

The first unannounced inspection took place within four days of the CQC receiving information about this incident. On the day the information was received, CQC contacted the social services department at the council and was told that one member of staff had already been arrested and four suspended. CQC was advised that the police and a team of social workers were already in the home, so we held back our inspection by several days in order to allow the criminal incident to be investigated.

During this first inspection, CQC spoke to more than 30 people – residents of the home and their families and friends - about the care they received. Two inspectors spent more than six hours in the home talking to people, observing care taking place, and checking records. CQC inspectors chose not to speak to Jane Worroll as they did not want to risk any interference with the ongoing police investigation.

Feedback given by people at the home was positive, with no residents or their families raising any concerns. Inspectors were satisfied that, based on the evidence they heard and saw, the risk to people’s safety had been dealt with by the immediate removal from the home of the staff concerned.  CQC did not find any new evidence of poor practice or abuse that indicated a current risk to people living at the home. If we had done so, CQC would have taken action to protect people – as has happened in many other cases.

No other agency, nor any resident, family member or carer at Ash Court has provided us with any evidence of abuse or poor care that has not been dealt with through this criminal prosecution or through the suspension and dismissal of the other four staff. As a result, CQC is confident it has acted swiftly and correctly in light of the evidence it has available.

CQC does not have a legal remit to investigate individual complaints, but if we receive information of concern, we may carry out an unannounced inspection – as we did in this case. Our inspection report includes considerable detail about the safeguarding alert, explaining that our inspection took place as a result, and also references the involvement of the police. The fact that a serious incident has taken place at the home is made very clear. However, our inspection reports do not as a matter of course name individuals or make these individuals identifiable.

CQC did require that the home made minor improvements with regard to training and formal supervision of staff. The home provided an action plan detailing how these improvements would be made. We recently returned to the home, again unannounced, to check the improvements had been made and found that they had. CQC will continue to monitor Ash Court Care Centre closely to make sure that it continues to meet the essential standards for care and safety – and will take action if it does not.

If anyone has a concern to raise about any health or care service, they should call CQC on 03000 61 61 61.

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