Care homes getting worse in one in three local councils

The quality of care homes has worsened in the last year in more than a third of local authorities (37 per cent) Independent Age has found.

With over 2.6 million over-65s living in areas where an increasing number of care homes are rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) many older people and their families have no choice but to choose a poorly-performing care home. 

The older people’s charity analysed a snapshot of the CQC’s inspection data in January 2018 and January 2019, and found:

More than a third of local authorities saw a drop in performance between the two dates. This is an extremely concerning trend, and a stark increase on the 22 per cent of local authorities where care home quality worsened between 2017 and 2018

In Manchester local authority, 44 per cent of care homes were rated ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’

There were 16 local authority areas where between 30-40 per cent of care homes attracted this rating.

For a care home to receive a ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ rating, the service must be failing to deliver the minimum quality of care that is expected. Issues highlighted in poorly rated care homes have included residents not receiving medicine as they were prescribed, and their nutrition and hydration not being monitored.

Today’s report compares the immediate action taken by Ofsted to address failing schools to the general acceptance of poorly-performing care homes. The charity believes lessons can be learned from the education sector’s approach to making improvements. Ofsted’s approaches to tackling failing schools have included a comprehensive improvement plan, such as management changes, arranging for expert help from other schools as well as regular re-inspections. These tactics are not consistently employed across the care home sector, but could be used to help tackle poor performance.

Independent Age is calling for urgent action to end the poor and inadequate quality of care. Residents and their families fund care homes, as well as taxpayers, but increasingly are not getting value for money.  The charity is also calling on the government to finalise a sustainable long term funding settlement for social care now. Only with a substantial investment which puts social care on a sustainable footing, can the Government truly resource the sector so that it can tackle unacceptable variations in quality. 

George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, commented: “Years of dithering by the government, and the failure to reform the social care system, is a main cause of increased pressures on the care home market and more areas with poor performers. Unless the forthcoming Green Paper is bold and ambitious, it will do little to address the crisis in care.”

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