Public to aid care home inspections
The new Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care has said she wants to recruit an army of ordinary people with personal experience of the care system to help carry out inspections.
Andrea Sutcliffe - one of three chief inspectors appointed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the watchdog body for England - said she wanted to tap the knowledge of "experts by experience", including relatives of people in care homes.
In an interview with The Independent, she said that she believed there would be no shortage of volunteers - who would be trained and paid for their time and expenses.
"These are people who've had an experience of care, either because they might be a mental-health service user themselves, or they might have cared for someone who's been in a residential home with dementia," she said.
"We know that an awful lot of those folk are keen to share their experience and share their insight and we know also that when they are involved in inspections they give us a tremendous way of finding out from people who are currently using the service - and the staff - what it's like, because they're having a very empathetic conversation."
Her comments come as the CQC is preparing to unveil a series of proposed changes to the way it monitors care providers. Homes will be given a ranking from poor to excellent which will be easily accessible for the public online.
Ms Sutcliffe, who started in her job last week, said that "humanity" - the way human beings experienced care homes - would be central to how she wanted her inspectors to work.
"It's about people's whole lives, so we do need to be making it human, making it personal," she said.
"I think of it in my head as 'the mum test'. Is this good enough for my mum? Or any relevant member of my family? And if it is, that's fantastic, but if it's not then it's not good enough for anybody's mum and we need to do something about it."