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I was delighted that the regulator - the Care Quality Commission - also attended and heartened by the stance it is taking to root out poor practice and report its findings to the public.
The risk for good care home operators is they are tarred with the bad publicity that poor operators receive. Also, large groups of care homes are bound to have the odd ‘bad apple’ and exposure to immediate publicity can create the wrong impression of institutionally poor practice.The answer is to have a methodology for answering legitimate media enquiries that will come about as the CQC starts to publicise its inspections. Too often care home operators duck and cover, instead of answering questions in an open and transparent way.The scale of the media coverage is growing. Recognition handles PR for numerous care sector operators. As I write we look after operators which have in excess of 60,000 beds in more than 700 homes. On average 11.7% of the actual care homes in these groups receive some negative media coverage in a 12 month period, and this percentage will grow as a result of the CQC’s unofficial policy of publicising any bad report after one official warning is given.
The CQC cannot be faulted for the policy of using a combination of inspections, warnings and publicity to drive up standards. But a good home will also comment in the press reports, reassuring the public, its residents and their relatives that action plans are in place to deal with the issues. On re-inspection a good tactic is to return to the issue and persuade a local newspaper to report that the home is now operating normally and has been given a 'pat-on-the-back' by inspectors. The CQC is quite happen to help present a balanced picture.
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