5.6 Business Failure and Service Interruptions - Impact for Safeguarding

Local Authorities should have knowledge of market vulnerabilities in order to respond effectively to service interruptions. Where there is a danger of a provider going into liquidation, commissioners should be informed so adequate safeguards can be put in place for adults currently using the service. Periodic market analysis (market shaping) to assess capacity and viability of services is helpful to ensure that in the event that additional resources might be needed local needs can be met. Local Authorities rely on providers to be open and transparent.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is charged with the responsibility for market oversight of adult social care in England. This is a statutory scheme through which the CQC assesses the financial sustainability of those care organisations that Local Authorities would find difficult to replace (due to their size, specialism or concentration in the market) should they fail and become unable to carry on delivering a service. The CQC must give Local Authorities an early warning of likely failure affecting adults receiving care in their areas, so that Local Authorities can make contingency plans to enable them to meet their statutory duty to ensure continuity of care.

Most service interruptions are relatively small scale and low risk and are therefore easily managed, but those on a larger scale have much greater potential impact. A key learning point from major commercial failures in recent years was that few Local Authorities could respond effectively without working with their partners, including other providers.

Where the continued provision of care and support to those receiving services is at major risk and there is no likelihood of returning to a ‘business as usual’ situation in the immediate future, adults may have urgent needs which must be met, including safeguarding.

5.6.1 Contingency planning

The aim should be that contingency planning sits alongside other emergency planning activities. Not all situations where a service has been interrupted or closed will warrant Local Authority/CCG involvement because not all cases will have the same risks associated with safeguarding. For example, if a care home closes and residents have agreed to the provider’s plans to move to a nearby care home that the provider also owns, the level of risk or the need to invoke safeguarding will be lessened. The aim is to return to ‘business as usual’ wherever possible, and with the least disruption to adults who use the service.