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Older People's Commissioner information request: Advice for providers as deadline approaches

CFW is urging all providers to make sure they respond to the request from the Older People's Commissioner, Sarah Rochira, for information by her deadline of February 2.

This is a legal requirement and, since the responses will be published online, your response should also contribute to the reputation of the care you provide. The OPC's initial request for information came in a letter dated November 3. A follow-up letter was sent on December 2.

CFW's policy advisers Mary Wimbury and Melanie Minty have put together a helpful Q&A document (below) to answer some of the questions you may have.

See the table of requirements for care home providers HERE

Read our Q&A advice for providers

1. Where do I find the OPC’s Requirements for Action?
The OPC sent a copy of the report, “A Place to Call Home?” under cover of a letter to all care home providers on 3 November 2014. However, if you did not receive a copy of the report or have mislaid it, you can download a further copy here.

The OPC then wrote again to care homes on 2 December having responded to queries by producing a pro-forma for care homes to use to respond (which is also available via the link above).

2. Do I have to answer the OPC’s request for information?
Yes, for both legal reasons and practical reputational reasons. Under Regulation 4 of The Commissioner for Older People in Wales Regulations 2007, the OPC can require care home providers (amongst others) to “provide … information” in connection with a report such as “A Place to Call Home?” This appears to be the legal provision the OPC is relying on in asking for a response by 2 February 2015.

The practical and reputational reason is that the OPC proposes to publish all of the responses (or lack of them) on the OPC website, together with a commentary by the OPC as to whether each home’s response is sufficient to comply with the Requirements. The power to do this is in section 18(4) of the Commissioner for Older People (Wales) Act 2006, as the OPC will argue that such disclosure is in the public interest.

3. Does this mean we also have to fulfil all of the Requirements for Action?
Technically, no, as the OPC has no direct powers to enforce this. However, as noted above, the OPC is going to publish your response so everyone will know the stance your home is taking. Anything that you promise to do is likely to be adopted by CSSIW as the standard for inspection and tested against what happens in practice in the home.

Similarly, if in your response to the OPC you say you have not or will not comply with the OPC’s Requirements for Action, and if you do not have a good reason for this, CSSIW are still likely to adopt the Requirements for Action as standards against which they will inspect. This is because the Requirements for Action are fairly consistent with the Care Homes (Wales) Regulations 2002 (as amended) and could be taken as the benchmark for compliance on these areas in 2014 and beyond.

4. I’m not sure what care homes have to do, and in what order?
CFW has prepared a simplified version of the response proforma setting out only those Requirements which are directly aimed at care homes and also including the ‘compliance deadlines’. These are in chronological order for compliance rather than the order in the report or the proforma, but we hope this will help you order your thoughts and plans. The simplified table is attached to this guidance note, but we suggest that before you send in your response to the OPC you read the original version and the OPC’s report as well, in order fully to understand the context.

5. I have already submitted my response to the OPC. Having read this guidance note, I think I might have ‘over promised’ and want to change what I have submitted. What can I do?
Contact the OPC immediately and say that you have given the matter further thought. Ask them to ignore what you have already sent in, and to confirm they will not publish it. Say you will put in a further response by the deadline of 2 February 2015.