CQC inspections over the last ten years: Back on the up and up…

I’ve blogged a lot in the past about the all-time-low in inspection of social care services in 2010-11 and the CQC’s annus horribilis, so it seemed only fair to blog about the most recent data CQC shared with me about their inspections.  As the CQC’s annual report for 2012-13 shows, the number of inspections of services rose from the previous year.  I asked CQC for a more detailed breakdown of the data than was available in that report, so I could see how residential care and home care services fared – as in the past they’ve been treated quite differently, and I wanted to look at long range patterns.  CQC’s FOIA department – one of  the most helpful and speedy I’ve encountered in my long history of pestering public authorities for information – obliged, and what’s even better is that this time the data didn’t just say how many inspections they had conducted, but how many services were inspected.  That is a really important statistic, because otherwise reporting that they had conducted, say, 10 inspections and they have 10 services registered makes it appear as if all services were visited – when it could simply be that only two services were visited, but they were so bad they were inspected 5 times.  From CQC’s data, it looks as if 95% of residential care services (including care homes and nursing homes) were inspected last year, and 74% of home care services.  Of course, inspection frequency data isn’t everything, but it does say something about how far CQC is prioritising ‘boots on the ground’ which is a necessary (albeit insufficient) precursor to strong regulation.

So, without further ado, here is an update to the long-range charts I’ve been producing showing how inspection levels of residential care fare against inspections:

Image Description: This chart is entitled ‘Domiciliary care services registered and inspected by NCSC, CSCI and CQC 2003-2013’. The chart has the years 2003-2013 along the X axis, marked according to which regulator was responsible for inspection at that time (NCSC for 2003-4; CSCI for 2004-2009 and CQC from 2009-2013).  There is a blue line showing the number of home care services registered and a red line showing the number of completed inspections of homecare services.  The blue line (services registered) rises very sharply from 0 to 4000 between 2003-2006/7; it then continues to rise, albeit less steeply, until 2013.  The red line (inspections) rises at almost the same rate as the red line (ie they almost overlap) betwen 2003-2006/7; it then plummets sharply between 2006/7 from around 4,5000 inspections to under 1000 in 201/11.  The red line is far below the blue line in this period.  From 2010-1013 the red line (inspections) rises steeply again until it is around three-quarters as high as the blue line (registered services).

Image description: The graph is entitled ‘Residential care services registered and inspected by year (NCSC, CSCI and CQC), 2003-2013 ‘. As with the previous graph, the X-Axis shows the year and the regulatory body of that time, from 2003-2013.  The Y axis has the numbers 0-4000.  There is a blue line (total number of care homes and nursing homes registered) and a red line (Number of completed key inspections: care homes and nursing homes).  The blue line is straight and almost horizontal, with a slight downward slope; it begins at around 20,000 and falls somewhat below that by 2013.   The red line has several sharp bends in it.  Between 2003-2005/6 the red line (inspections) is level, and twice as high as the blue line.  Between 2005/6 and 2010/11 the red line falls downwards dramatically.  In 2006/7 the red line crosses the blue line and falls below it.  By 2010/11 it is at its lowest point, at below 500.  It then rises again, getting about 2/3 of the way to the blue line in 2011/12 and almost touching it in 2012/13.

As you can see, the levels of inspection are still nowhere near the pre-2007 levels, when the Labour Government made it’s fateful decision to abolish minimum inspection frequencies for care services.  However, inspection levels have been climbing year on year since their low in 2010/11.  It will be interesting to see what the next years bring under the new leadership of CQC.

Ps. As you can see from the image descriptions under the charts, I am trying to be better about making images accessible.  If you have an impairment which makes reading this blog tricky, I’d really appreciate any feedback as I’m contemplating moving to another host to make it easier for all readers.

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