The group also called for an in-depth study into the costs and outcomes of different service models, access to independent advocacy for everyone placed away from home or in a hospital unit, and a two-year programme to support commissioners to deliver government policy.
As part of its investigations, Castlebeck has commissioned the consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out an independent review of its culture and medical practices. The NHS and South Gloucestershire Council have also launched their own investigations, and South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board has commissioned a serious case review.
The CQC has admitted that it missed opportunities to take action, and has announced a series of measures, including a review of services run by Castlebeck. It has also proposed unannounced inspections of 150 services providing care for people with a learning disability.
Speaking at a Mencap parliamentary reception in June, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said he was determined that the Department of Health would “do everything humanly possible” to minimise the risk of similar abuse happening again. “Questions must be asked about how a model of care that is not government policy has continued to persist and is allowed to happen.”
In a written statement, Burstow confirmed that the Department of Health will review the findings of each investigation, before reporting its recommendations to parliament. These recommendations, expected in the autumn, will need to take into account the findings of the Dilnot Commission on care funding, as well as the forthcoming social care white paper.
An advisory group has been formed to help determine the final recommendations. It includes Mencap’s chief executive Mark Goldring, former national director for learning disabilities Anne Williams and Professor Jim Mansell, author of government guidance on learning disability services.
Anthea Sully, director of the Learning Disability Coalition, is part of a group advising the CQC on how it should carry out the unannounced inspections of care services.
“There were so many failings among the different organisations,” she says. “So, it’s right that each organisation is carrying out its own investigation.”
However, she is concerned that rather than a far-sighted plan to overhaul social care services, the final response could merely paper over the cracks of a system that has repeatedly failed vulnerable people: “One of my fears is where that piece of work is going to be held, now that the ‘Valuing People Now’ programme has been mothballed. Where’s the overarching view of the support that people receive?”