Thursday, 17 November 2011

Code of conduct for care workers is not the solution

Health care assistants and care workers who look after elderly people in England are set to be governed by a code of conduct and minimum standards.

The new regulations come amid growing concerns about the training and quality of care provided by some care workers with several cases being seen by the local government ombudsman for England, Dr Jane Martin.

Dr Martin has the powers to investigate what local authorities do, but she feels that there is a gap in the system when it comes to care workers.

She said: “It seems to me, if there were more safeguards around the qualification or perhaps the registration of care assistants, that would give me greater assurance that they were being properly vetted and employed to do a job that we had more confidence in.”

Read the full story from the source hc2d.co.uk

My comment: As usual the Minister and Ombudsman are backside covering by diverting attention away from the cause onto one of the symptoms. 

No code of conducts will ever stop the Baby P, the Winterbourne and the Wirral scandals. In addition Doctors and Nurses in the NHS already adhere to a code of conduct but that hasn't stopped the scandals in the NHS.

What the Minister and Ombudsman are attempting to do is tar all care workers/front  line staff with the same brush and put the blame onto them. Whilst there is no doubt some care workers/front line staff don't care the majority do, and the minister and the ombudsman shouldn't try and offload their own failures onto them.

In the three cases above in every single one was exposed because of a member of staff, not senior management, not the Ombudsman and not the Minister.  

In fact they were exposed in spite of the Local Government Ombudsman and Care Quality Commission who repeatedly ignore whistle-blowers and evidence whilst often accepting senior managements assurances that there are no problems. 

Were any of the whistle-blowers assisted or protected by the Local Government Ombudsman or the Care quality Commission or the Ministers responsible? NO. Watchdogs and Ministers only get involved  to cover their backsides when the damage has been done and only then to divert attention away from their own failings.

In every one of the three cases above (and in many of the NHS scandals) the cause can be traced back to the failures of senior management. Failures that an effective Watchdog and Minister would have put a stop to long before any symptoms developed. (Ironically many Pubic Sector Ombudsmen and Watchdogs are selected from that very group, which may help explain the problem.)

If senior management in any organisation are poor the culture of the whole organisation is  poor and most good staff will do one of three things, look for another job as soon as possible, whistle-blow and/or persevere hoping one day a Watchdog or Minister will realise what's going on and kick their senior manager's backsides. 

However, it never happens and as good staff leave senior management have no option but to replace them with anyone who will put up with their poor management skills and practices. Poor staff slowly replace good staff and uncaring carers slowly replace caring carers, For who else would put up with low pay and bad management for long? The culture of the organisation goes into rapid free-fall until we end up with a Baby P, a Winterbourne, Wirral and many NHS scandals.

Did a Minister, Watchdog, Ombudsman stop these unfortunate events, no they didn't, they only put their heads above the parapet after the events in an attempt to divert attention away from their own failures.

Until Watchdogs, Ombudsmen and Ministers stop trying to divert attention away from the cause, nothing will change, we will continue to lurch from scandal to scandal.

Remember the promises of Watchdogs and Ministers after every scandal, 'lessons will be learnt'? Well they obviously aren't for if they were they wouldn't keep happening and whistle-blowers and good staff would be protected not blamed.

The solution is to replace the current bunch of backside covering incompetents with Public Service Ombudsmen, Watchdogs and Ministers who are fit for purpose.

Read all articles about Watchdogs or all articles about the Care Quality Commission on this blog and all articles about the Local Government Ombudsman on my dedicated blog

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