The CQC and Embarrassing Toilet Incidents

So the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is once again left feeling like the bloke who leaves a giant stool in his in-laws loo just as the flush stops working. They’re not just flapping around in a panic with their trousers around their ankles. They’re tripping over, hitting their head on the bath and suffering the acute embarrassment of the in-laws calling the ambulance out. 

I’d seen the trailers for last night’s Panorama so knew what to expect. Fiona Phillips flashing her Jimmy Choo’s as the celebrity face of Alzheimer’s and doing a bit of crying. Sorry Fiona, perhaps a little harsh but I do have issues with slebs doing ‘issues’. That’s for another blog.

It was of course revolting television and very hard to watch, even when forewarned is forearmed. The online world is rampant with a thousand calls for action, more respect for elderly people, and Telegraph readers demanding instant dismissal of all care home staff not carrying a Surrey passport. 

But while it’s good and right to howl loudly from the rooftops, we also need to take a step back and ask how we as a society put a stop to this. It would be lovely to think that the extended family will take over when Grandad starts leaving the gas ring on and tries to make toast with a chocolate digestive.

But the nuclear family is long gone in this corner of the world, and those care industry shareholders won’t be giving up their yachts and racehorses anytime soon. So for now at least we’re left with bodies like the CQC and our Safeguarding Panels to protect vulnerable people from the living nightmares we seem to be seeing and reading about every other day.

Still emerging battered and bruised from the ashes of Winterborne View, the CQC now have their old friends Panorama to thank for yet another death by spycam. They didn’t emerge with a lot of credit last night. It would be all too easy to point the finger and join in with a bit of quango-bashing, but in fact I come to praise Caesar, not to stick a knife in his guts.

They have the unenviable task of inspecting just about anywhere in the country that has a roof, paid staff and vulnerable people sitting indoors. They deserve to be cut some slack for that at least, but what concerned me last night was the sheer panic in the face of what was bound to be another incendiary device going ‘BANG!’ in the face of a horrified public.

They declined to appear on camera with Fiona Phillips. Now Fi is hardly Jeremy Paxman in a designer two-piece so why the reluctance? Our national care inspectorate reduced at once to the status of dodgy car dealer chased around by that bald bloke in a parka who makes shows about dodgy car dealers. 

But perhaps with the benefit of past experience, their ‘Panorama Statement’ was robust, reasonable and said all that needed to be said. A media-trained representative could and should have offered that content to the Panorama cameras. More dignity, more transparency, and much less cowboy builder.  

And then there was their slightly embarrassing Twitter campaign emerging almost as soon as the credits were rolling. Their output of Tweets is normally so rare I’d forgotten I even follow them, but last night? A slightly embarrassing flurry of ‘It Wasn’t Me Guv’ postings, and a link to their most recent report on Ash Court

To paraphrase the report: “Ash Court is lovely. I’d send my Gran there.” It contained enough typos to suggest the authorship of a chimp with a bad caffeine habit. Unprofessional, but let’s put that down to the inspector’s report-writing fatigue and almost certain overwork. More importantly, why the apparent whitewash? Well there is that notorious tendency of care homes to get the decorators in as soon as they have a whiff of an ‘unannounced’ inspection, and would we really expect care staff to be stood in front of a clipboard-wielding inspector abusing a frail, elderly woman while chatting away in Spanish and watching Corrie? You can’t punish what you can’t see. 

I don’t write public statements for the CQC or for anyone else other than myself and my business. But I might have asked this of those who will invariably point the finger at the inspoectors: “Did anyone from the CQC actually abuse vulnerable people at Winterbourne View or Ash Court? No. Did anyone at CQC have anything to do with building 60-bed three-tier monstrosities which are more about battery farming than any semblance of residential care? No.”

Their management of the latest care industry furore was undoubtedly poor and unnecessarily defensive. They need to learn lessons. They almost certainly need more inspectors on the ground, and less twonks in suits. But there’s a whole heap of reasons why we’ll keep on hearing, reading and seeing these horrors, and the answers won’t come anytime soon. So for now we need a care inspectorate thrusting it’s face into dark corners shouting “Oi! You!” and not running around panicking over an obstinate plop.

If you can’t be bothered reading his profile, Connor Kinsella is Lead Trainer with JCK Training and writes about himself in the third-person. 

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5 thoughts on “The CQC and Embarrassing Toilet Incidents”

  1. Another good blog. It does astonish me how all these expose items bring about a flurry of activity demanding all sorts and then are never heard of again. Do you think that a bit like Fiona, it's important to be seen to be doing something rather than actually doing something?

  2. Thank you folks. Yes, in an ideal world we could put all the sensible people together (including trainers of course) and actually knock out some solutions to the various problems, but now too many competing interests and big business of course. Could CQC rehome 60 elderly people at Ash Court if they shut the home? Of course not. Certainly think some form of standardised Health and Social Care training should be a top priority though, to replace NVQ and whatever is meant to be replacing it.

  3. quote from your blog:I’d seen the trailers for last night’s Panorama so knew what to expect. Fiona Phillips flashing her Jimmy Choo’s as the celebrity face of Alzheimer’s and doing a bit of crying. Sorry Fiona, perhaps a little harsh but I do have issues with slebs doing ‘issues’. That's for another blog.Did you not know both of Fiona Phillips parents suffered with Alzheimers disese,so your comment about her doing a bit of crying as you put I think is a little unfair.The reason the BBC picked her to do the programme was she has first hand experience of it…

  4. Thanks Yes, I'm aware of Ms Phillips' relationship with Alzheimers, as much as I'm aware that there are many thousands of people whose parents have this or one of the other dementias. You've touched on a subject worthy of a post on it's own but put briefly, my point is not a personal attack. There is of course an argument that we're now much more aware of Alzheimers because of Fiona Phillips and we're more aware of mental illness thanks to Ruby Wax and Frank Bruno. I'll listen carefully to that argument, but for the moment believe we're being patronised by the media as being unable to take notice of weighty issues without the money shot of a famous face wiping tears from their eyes. Interesting point and very much on the To Do list for future debate!

  5. Thankyou for your reply,on your blog about the subject it did not seem you were aware of Fiona Phillips personal involvment with Alzheimers disese,and I thought your comments were a little unkind.

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