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Green light for co-located care

Stephen Burke updates on recent developments regarding the regulation of co-located care.

The huge and growing interest in co-located care where care homes and nurseries share a site (as covered in the March issue of CMM) has prompted questions.

As more providers of both childcare and eldercare link up – from hosting regular visits to sharing a site and its facilities to promote intergenerational interaction – some have asked what the regulators’ positions are in regard to these developments.

Inevitably, these questions have also covered safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults.

Guidance for providers

Fortunately, Ofsted, the regulator for children’s early years and childcare amongst other services in England, has just issued guidance for its inspectors on registering and inspecting childcare provision that is co-located with care homes.

The new guidance follows a roundtable hosted by United for All Ages in March. This meeting gave some childcare and eldercare providers interested in co-location, the chance to hear from and put questions to both Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

It’s fair to say that both regulators were very positive about bringing older and younger people together and recognised the wide-ranging benefits, not just for children and older people but also their families, staff and the local community.

In fact, many providers already engaged in intergenerational activities have received Good or Outstanding inspection reports as these activities contribute towards meeting key criteria.

Different co-location scenarios

During the meeting, we talked about a range of different scenarios that nurseries may experience in setting up on a care home site. These scenarios also included care homes hosting local childminding businesses, which is already happening in some parts of the country.

These scenarios form the basis of the Ofsted guidance and the box below reproduces some of the scenarios and Ofsted’s responses.

This guidance should be useful for providers considering co-location, and also for local authorities planning joint forums of childcare and eldercare providers in their area. The full guidance can be downloaded from United for All Ages’ website.

The guidance is very clear and straightforward, and should reassure providers. As they should be doing already, every provider must undertake all the necessary risk assessments and ensure that they have the best policy and practice for safeguarding in place.

We will be contacting regulators in Scotland and Wales to ask if they will issue similar guidance.

Our aim is for at least 500 shared sites or centres for all ages to be up and running by the end of 2022. This new Ofsted guidance is another step forward as more providers make the co-location of care happen.

Intergenerational care: scenarios and responses by Ofsted

This is a summary of four of the seven scenarios to which Ofsted has responded.

1. An existing care home site has part of its building that it wants to lease to a nursery. An existing registered childcare provider wants to convert the space for an additional nursery, with the same name just on another site. Does the childcare provider need to register the second nursery on the care home site as a new nursery?

Response: This would be covered by the provisions in the Childcare Act 2006 that relate to multiple providers. Each registered provider only holds one registration for all its premises. However, a registered provider cannot set up a new nursery without seeking Ofsted’s approval. If an existing provider wants to open a new nursery, they will need to seek Ofsted’s approval before they can offer care at the new site.

2. Same scenario, but a new childcare provider wants to lease the space. Does the new childcare provider need to register on the care home site as a new nursery?

Response: If a new childcare provider is taking over the space from an existing childcare provider, the new childcare provider will need to hold a registration for this setting. If the new childcare provider already holds a registration with Ofsted, then it will need to apply for approval to run this as an additional setting.
If the existing childcare provider and the new childcare provider both want to lease the space, for example on different days, then they would both need to hold a separate registration/approval with Ofsted.

3. A care home provider wants to develop a new site and include a new-build nursery on the same site. It will be two different providers working in partnership. Will this be a joint CQC and Ofsted registration and subsequent joint inspections?

Response: There is no facility in the legislation for ‘joint registrations’ so in this scenario, the provider would need to apply separately to CQC and Ofsted to register its provision. Similarly, each provision, once registered, would be subject to separate inspections by Ofsted and CQC and a separate inspection report. Each agency would be responsible for gathering its own evidence and reaching its own judgements on the quality of provision. We may be able to consider carrying out those two separate inspections at the same time, but this would depend on whether the timing of those inspections lined up.

4. Should staff (both social care and childcare) who are delivering intergenerational activities be DBS checked on both barring lists?

Response: For nursery provision, the registered provider (rather than Ofsted) must carry out DBS checks on those who work in the setting. The Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage makes it clear in paragraph 3.10 that providers are responsible for carrying out DBS checks on their staff. It does not specify whether providers need to ask for this check to cover both barred lists. Providers, therefore, need to use their own judgement on this and seek advice from the DBS, particularly if staff may have unsupervised access to either children or adults.

Stephen Burke is Director of United for All Ages. Email: stephen.burke@unitedforallages.com
Twitter: @united4allages

The full Ofsted guidance can be found at www.unitedforallages.com

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