Our monthly insight series provides summaries of the most significant news items in social care. With a significant amount happening in the sector currently, we hope that the following will help you focus on some of the key issues and narratives that you may need to be aware of to support your business and clients. Read the latest developments below.

Market gains beds despite loss of care homes, Knight Frank reveals

Knight Frank, May 2019

The UK Healthcare: Development opportunities 2019 report shows there was a marginal net gain of 43 beds in the care home market in the year to April despite a net loss of 86 homes. Data showed that 219 existing homes and 6,459 beds were de-registered and a total of 133 new properties and 6,502 beds were added to the market. The three main reasons for closure were failing care standards, financial stress and redevelopment.

DoLS replacement bill becomes law ahead of expected implementation in 2020

Community Care, 16 May

Legislation to replace the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) has today received Royal Assent, heralding a new system for authorising deprivations of liberty in care. The government has still to confirm an implementation date for the LPS, with Spring 2020 previously mooted as the likely time frame it is working to. It has, however, been confirmed that the DoLS will run alongside the LPS for a year after implementation to ease the transition of existing cases.

North East sees the highest self-funded fee increases

Care Home Management, 3 June 2019

Average weekly fees for self-funding residents in nursing homes have increased most in the North East and the least in the East of England, a fee survey has revealed. According to a LangBuisson survey of care providers, fees in the North East have increased 11.3 per cent over the past 12 months to £795 a week, and in the East of England by 7.7 per cent to £998. Despite the fee increases, nursing homes in the North East still command the lowest self-funded fees of the nine regions polled. By comparison, the highest self-funded fees, of £1,384, are found in London. This represents a rise of 8.6 per cent on 2017-18).

CQC commissions review into regulation of Whorlton Hall

Laing Buisson, 31 May 2019

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has commissioned David Noble to undertake an independent review into how it dealt with concerns raised by a former inspector in relation to the regulation of Whorlton Hall. Following the BBC Panorama investigation, which showed patients with learning disabilities and complex needs being physically and psychologically abused, whistleblower Barry Stanley-Wilkinson said he wrote a report on the hospital that was never published. In response, the CQC has decided to launch a review that will focus on concerns raised about the draft report prepared in 2015, and how they were addressed internally.

Read more:

Panorama expose leads to ten arrests

Bubb calls for end to institutional care

CQC urges reviews of cases where people with learning disability or autism are segregated in hospital

Local Government Lawyer, 21 May

An independent review should be carried out of every person who is being held in segregation in mental health wards for children and young people and wards for people with a learning disability or autism, the Care Quality Commission has said. The watchdog said in an interim report, Review of restraint, prolonged seclusion and segregation for people with a mental health problem, a learning disability and or autism, that these reviews should examine the quality of care, the safeguards to protect the person and the plans for discharge.

The CQC said that, as well as exploring the use of restraint in these hospitals, it would expand its review to a wider group of settings in phase two (June to December 2019) including low secure and rehabilitation mental health wards and adult social care services. It will also work with Ofsted to consider the use of restrictive intervention in children’s residential services and secure children’s homes.

Government taken to task over sleep-in-pay as Supreme Court hearing date announced

CareHome.co.uk, 13 May

Whilst the uncertainty over care workers' rights for sleep-in shift work continues, the long-awaited hearing for the Supreme Court has finally been announced, but it’s not until February 2020. At the hearing, the trade union UNISON will be hoping to overturn the decision made by the Court of Appeal last year that the National Minimum Wage does not apply for night shift care staff for time they spend asleep and are available at work.Programme to tackle over-medication in care homes launched

Laing Buisson, 10 May

NHS England has recruited medical and clinical staff as part of its £20m programme to help prevent care home residents being given too much medication. Residents are prescribed an average of seven medicines a day, with many taking ten or more, costing the NHS an estimated £250m each year. Additional staff include 200 clinical pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who will support residents to improve quality of life, cut hospital stays and reduce over-medication.

Health Secretary proposes universal insurance payments for elderly care

Care Home Professional, 3 May

The Health Secretary said the scheme, which is expected to be included in the Social Care Green Paper, could be modelled on the auto enrolment system for workplace pensions for company employees.

Matt Hancock says social care green paper will stop people moving to care homes unless 'clinically justified'

Carehome.co.uk, 1 May

Matt Hancock told peers at the House of Lords Economic Affairs committee on Tuesday: “I think there’s a big opportunity to make social care better for the individual being cared for and better value for money by a shift from residential to domiciliary care. Referring to other countries who have already made a ‘big shift’ he said: “A Norwegian minister told me that they had moved from essentially 80 per cent residential to 80 per cent domiciliary care.

Read more: Health Secretary confirms Green Paper Brexit delay

Registered nurses in social care

Skills for Care, May 2019

A statement of the role, knowledge and skills for the 42,000 registered nurses working in social care has been launched. Registered nurses: Recognising the responsibilities and contribution of registered nurses within social care provides a description of the complex role nurses undertake and demonstrates the way that they not only use all of their nursing knowledge, but also contribute to important national health and social care agendas.