Quality of care homes worse in one in five local authorities

The proportion of care homes rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” increased in one in five local authority areas in 2017, according to charity Independent Age.

In an analysis of Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings, Independent Age found that the North West is the worst performing region, and London and the East of England are the best.

The main regional findings are:

  • The North West contains five of the eight worst performing English local authorities on care home quality, with more than one in four care homes across the region performing poorly.
  • The North West (28.2% of care homes performing poorly), Yorkshire and The Humber (26.1%) and the West Midlands (21.3%) are the worst performing regions of England for care home quality.
  • London (17.4% of care homes performing poorly), the East of England (17.4%) and the East Midlands (18.2%) are the best performing regions for care home quality.

The new analysis is based on CQC inspections of care homes which rate homes as either ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’. Homes rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ were counted as poor performers.
Performance at local authority level shows even greater variation. Seven local authority areas have more than two in five poorly performing homes, while eight local authority areas have fewer than 5 per cent of homes rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.  

For the first time, the report offers  a year-on-year comparison on care home performance across regions and local authorities in England. The key findings from this year-on-year comparison are:

In every region, the percentage of poor care homes has decreased in the past year.

However, in every region, at least one local authority has seen an increase in the percentage of poor care homes.

Five local authorities have seen an overall improvement in the percentage of care homes, yet still have more than two in five care homes rated as poor performers.  Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “The market simply does not seem to be able to drive the rapid improvement needed in many areas.”  

Independent Age makes the following recommendations to drive up standards in social care:
• The government’s forthcoming green paper must not be restricted to narrow questions of social care funding and finance, but must also address questions of quality in the social care market.
• In areas where there is a failure of quality, the local authority must do more to fulfil their Care Act duty to shape the local care market.
• The Department of Health and Social Care must demonstrate leadership on tackling regional variation in care home quality.

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