Short-notice care home closures

Intelligence and information sharing

Information gathering and information sharing are essential components of commissioning activity. They should be both proactive - to help anticipate and ideally prevent closure or discontinuity of service provision; and reactive - to share concerns and ensure a coordinated and coherent response to difficulties.

In both cases, the processes of gathering information and disseminating it effectively should lead to more satisfactory outcomes for the individuals affected by service cessation; for the care workers and owners of facilities providing service; and for the diversity and choice of the marketplace.

You've got to understand the local market - its strength and weaknesses, where gaps are - act on information received and alert each other to potential problems

Commissioner

Examples and tips

Examples of what others are doing plus materials they have developed and useful tips.

Intelligence and information sharing - examples and tips sections

Tools and checklists

Intelligence and information sharing - Tools and checklists section

Key points from policy and research

A 2006 report by Age Concern - 'Rights for real - older people and human rights'  shows how the Human Rights Act (HRA)1998 provides the principles, practice and policy to safeguard older people and ensure they have good quality services from a range of providers. The report also highlights risk areas where older people may not be covered under human rights legislation, such as privately self-funded clients and people managing their own care arrangements.

Exploration of the changes needed by public services to meet the independence and wellbeing of older people and support to carers, considering the various strategic alliances that need to be formed across health and social care (Audit Commission 2004).

Research into the protection of service users who are receiving care from non-public organisations offers guidance on contracting for services in light of the HRA 1998 (Department for Communities and Local Government 2005).

For those in local government involved in asset transfer to the community sector, a practical guide on how risk can be managed and minimised, drawing on successful case studies and examples, is available. Whilst concentrating on cashable and tangible resources, there is evidence that a smooth transfer can be facilitated for the benefit of all affected (Department for Communities and Local Government 2008).

The personalisation agenda set out by the Department of Health in 'Putting people first' defines the market and consequent contractual relationships in a more personalised approach to care provision (Department of Health, 2008).

The work of the My Home Life team sets out those elements of care that are the cornerstone of quality of life for residents and maps out service specifications for both providers and commissioners www.myhomelifemovement.org

Where market failure is due to lowered income streams through lower occupancy levels or low prices, providers and commissioners may consider using a toolkit designed for professionals involved in negotiating care home fees (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2008).

Earlier work on a similar theme was issued as 'Guidance on unfair terms in care home contracts', Office of Fair Trading 2003.

What the regulator says

In the event of threatened or imminent emergency closure, commissioners should make contact with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) at the earliest opportunity. CQC will provide information under its information-sharing protocols indicating any action which it is taking