The Care Commission has announced the early findings from the first six months of its new grading system for Scotland’s care services.
In April it launched a grading scheme and has now assessed almost a third of the country’s 14,859 registered services, including care homes, nurseries and childminders.
Each is awarded a grade of 1-6 across four aspects of care and so far the Care Commission has found the majority of services are scoring 3s, 4s or 5s across the four areas.
Ronnie Hill, Director with lead responsibility for grading, said: “While this is not the final picture, we are encouraged with the early findings from the first six months.
“This shows that the quality of care in Scotland is, on the whole, good or satisfactory. In some cases it is very good indeed.
“However, we are not complacent and recognise that a number of services are failing to meet the required standard and will continue to work intensively with them to bring about improvements.
By November 5 a total of 4380 Scottish care services were graded – with 834 (19%) achieving across the board grades of 5 (very good) and 6 (excellent). However a total of 95 services (2%) were found to be failing after they received grades of 1 (unsatisfactory) and 2 (weak).
Childminders account for 6048 registered care services in Scotland – the biggest single type of care service regulated. To date a third of childminders (1978) have been graded.
An impressive 544 (27%) of those achieved consistent 5s and 6s, while just nine (0.5%) were graded with all 1s and 2s. Mr Hill said the figures backed up an earlier Scotland-wide review of Childminding services which found they were of a consistently good standard and parents were satisfied with the care being provided.
Scotland also has 4236 Daycare of Children services – which include nurseries – and so far 658 (15.5%) have been graded. They were also found to be performing to a level where most scored 3s, 4s and 5s.
Findings showed 101 (15%) were awarded consistent 5s and 6s, while 26 (4%) were graded with across the board 1s and 2s. Although not a definitive picture, the findings to date suggest fewer private nurseries (10%) earned 5s and 6s than those operated by Local Authorities (32%) or by voluntary or not for profit bodies (12%).
Care Homes for Older People did not fare so well in the first six months of grading. So far 640 of the 947 (68%) registered homes have been graded. While 34 (5%) were awarded all 5s and 6s, the same number were graded with all 1s and 2s.
Mr Hill added: “An important aim of our grading system is that it will allow people using or looking for care services to make far better informed choices. This alone should help to drive up standards.
“However we are acutely aware that those older people who are already living in failing care homes have no such choices open to them.
“Grading also allows us to help them, because we now have a far better picture of care across Scotland and can focus our resources more carefully on those services which need it most to ensure they meet the acceptable standards.”
As part of the grading strategy, any care service which scores 1s and 2s can be re-graded promptly if it proves it has taken action to put in place long-term improvements. Services which are graded with 3s or better normally have those grades reassessed at the next formal inspection.
Mr Hill added: “While we’ve provided a summary of results after the first six months, these are early days and more detailed information and conclusions will be available when we report on full year results in 2009.”
While devising at a glance “report cards” for registered services, the Care Commission decided against a hotel-style star rating, which was felt too simplistic for the care sector.
Instead inspectors now give a grading, ranging across four areas: Quality of care and support; Quality of information/environment; Quality of staffing; and Quality of management and leadership.
Mr Hill added: “We are already seeing the benefits of grading. People who use care must be involved in the assessment and design of a service if it is to achieve higher grades.”
• Inspection reports on individual services, including the grades awarded to them, can be found on the Care Commission website, http://www.carecommission.com.
Issued on behalf of the Care Commission by Holyrood PR, 0131 561 2244