Tribunal upholds CQC decision to refuse ‘campus style’ accommodation

A tribunal has ruled in favour of a Care Quality Commission (CQC) decision to refuse an application by Lifeways Community Care to change a condition of its registration.

In April 2018 the support services care provider applied to add an additional care facility at Springside in Walsall, West Midlands. The facility, which had previously been an NHS care home, would accommodate nine people and would be split up into three units offering three en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen and living room facilities and three self-contained flats.

The regulator visited the location in April last year and found the proposed care home had an ‘institutional appearance’ and looked more like a hospital. The regulator also found it did not follow the national guidance which advocates small domestic models of care and dispersed settings.

In May 2018, the CQC informed Lifeways it proposed to refuse the application, stating its view was that the care home proposal did not comply with their policy ‘Registering the Right Support’.

Additionally, it did not comply with national guidance that states new services and variations to registrations should not be developed as a campus or congregate setting because it is not in the best interests of people with a learning disability and does not promote their rights of choice, independence and inclusion.

In September, the CQC confirmed it would refuse the variation in registration. Lifeways submitted an appeal against the CQC’s decision in October.

As part of the appeal hearing in July a First-tier Tribunal panel carried out a site visit at the proposed care home and heard oral evidence on behalf of both Lifeways and the CQC.

The panel’s unanimous view was that it ‘was obvious the proposed care home had an institutional look to it and clearly had characteristics of a campus style setting’ and the proposal was ‘completely inappropriate’ with reference to the national guidance and policy.

The panel also felt that ‘the proposed care home and the extent to which it departs from national policy and guidance creates unacceptable and serious risks to service users in the provision of care.’

‘I am delighted the First-tier Tribunal has recognised that our decision to refuse this variation in registration was justified and in the best interests of those who would have potentially used this service,’ said Joyce Frederick, deputy chief inspector, Registration at the CQC. ‘The panel agreed with the analysis of CQC witnesses that to allow registration in these circumstances would not promote the “Transforming Care agenda” and that “if we accept Good Enough we can’t transform the service and achieve the necessary change”.’

A Lifeways spokesperson said: ‘Lifeways are disappointed by the tribunal decision, we felt strongly that the homes we are providing are of a high standard, meet the needs of local people, and also meet the principles of ‘Registering the Right Support’, principles that we support.

‘The homes were developed in close collaboration with the local authority, who are clear that they meet the needs of the people in the borough. We will continue to work with both commissioners and the CQC to ensure that future developments are of a high quality and meet the needs of the people we support.’