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Quality of care homes has worsened in fifth of council areas

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The proportion of care homes rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission increased in one in five local authority areas in 2017.

A “dramatic variation” in the quality of care homes at a regional and local authority level across England continues to exist, according to charity Independent Age, which assessed CQC reports.

“Older people and their families are still facing an unenviable choice”

Janet Morrison

The North West is the worst performing region when it comes to the proportion of satisfactory care homes, while London and the East of England are the best performing regions.

In some areas, such as Tameside or Portsmouth, older people and their families “continue to face little choice” of quality, with around one in two care homes rated not good enough, it said in its 2018 report titled Care home performance across England.

The charity considered homes rated by the CQC as “requires improvement” or “Inadequate” as being poor performers.

According to its analysis, the North West (28.2% of homes performing poorly), Yorkshire and The Humber (26.1%) and the West Midlands (21.3%) are the worst performing regions.

In contrast, 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.

Performance at local authority level showed even greater variation, said the charity. Seven local authority areas had more than two in five homes rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement”.

  1. Tameside – 56.8% of homes
  2. Portsmouth – 46.5%
  3. Kensington and Chelsea – 45.5%
  4. Manchester – 43.8%
  5. Bradford – 43.6%
  6. Stockport – 43.3%
  7. Trafford – 43.1%

In contrast, eight local authority areas had less than 5% of homes rated in the CQC’s bottom two categories, including five that have no care homes with those ratings.

  • Bracknell Forest, Isles of Scilly, Reading, Rutland and Southwark – 0%
  • Thurrock – 3%
  • West Berkshire – 4.5%
  • Richmond-upon-Thames – 4.7%

In addition, the research provided a year-on-year comparison on care home performance across regions and local authorities in England.

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 councils have seen an overall improvement in the percentage of care homes, yet still have more than two in five care homes rated as “inadequate” or “required improvement”, said the charity.

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “Older people and their families are still facing an unenviable choice between poor care homes in some parts of the country.

“While it is encouraging that there has been an overall improvement in quality, this masks persistent variation in the quality of care homes within each region of the country,” she said.

“We urgently need both government and local authorities to demonstrate that they understand the reasons for this variation and that they have the ability to address it,” said Ms Morrison.

“These figures are shocking and shameful, but they tell a story we hear all too often”

Dominic Carter

Independent Age said it believed the drivers of quality variation included low levels of council funding, low pay and difficulty recruiting staff, plus a lack of support for improving struggling homes.

Dominic Carter, senior policy officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “These figures are shocking and shameful, but they tell a story we hear all too often.

“Decades of chronic under-funding mean care homes are stuck between a rock and a hard place, struggling to meet rising need with shrinking resources,” he said.

He added: “The government must act now, with meaningful investment and a fresh approach to delivering care, or the system will collapse and people with dementia will continue to suffer.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • While this is sad news indeed if 100% accurate, for a more rounded view it would be interesting to look at CQC inspection approaches. They inspect care homes against a set of standards than can be impossible to achieve given current financial and staffing constraints. Documentation is king and if not completed is what often lowers grades, not the quality of the actual hands on care.

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