Care homes face prosecution if abuse concerns are not reported

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New social care legislation means executives must report employees if they are suspected of harm or neglect, Care Home Funding Advocates has seen on the Guardian website.

Care homes will face prosecution if they do not report concerns that their staff are mistreating patients under social care legislation to be published this month.

The “duty of candour” on social care providers, a recommendation in the Francis report into the Mid Staffs NHS scandal, will be set out by health secretary Jeremy Hunt and would mean industry executives would have to tell health regulators if they thought their employees might be harming or neglecting elderly people.

Ministers will also lay out a new payment system for social care, which the government says will “ensure the elderly do not have to sell their homes to meet their care bills”. This allows elderly and vulnerable people to borrow the cash to pay for residential care from councils – to be repaid when they die and their house is sold. At present councils can offer a deferred payment scheme, though many do not as it is in effect an interest-free loan. The government intends to make this scheme universal and allow local authorities to charge interest.

Experts say this will make the new system more expensive.

The government will also set a national eligibility level, replacing the postcode lottery whereby elderly people receive different levels of state support depending on how councils rate their needs.

Ministers will set a cap on care costs at £72,000 from 2016. However, this system is not designed to underwrite private care homes – and the industry says that only a very narrow band of the elderly who are accepted as “eligible and can find a care home that accepts local authority funding” will not have to pay for care. Such is the complexity of the system that insurers are calling for the government to make regulated financial advice a legal requirement in social care.

“There are a lot of unknowns here,” said Chris Horlick of Partnership Assurance – the last insurer to offer pre-funded care insurance. He said that the government underestimated how big the reforms were and would probably have local trials before rolling them out nationally. “It is what happened in welfare reform. I can see the same thing here.”

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