The North West is the region with the highest proportion of poorly performing services, according to research highlighting “stark variations” in the quality of care home provision across the country.
A report, published today by charity Independent Age, found the region contained seven of the 10 local authority areas in England with the highest share of homes rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission.
“No one should be forced to live in an unsatisfactory care home”
These included Stockport, which had the highest proportion at 62.9%, followed by Salford, Tameside, and Manchester City.
Exactly half of Kensington and Chelsea’s homes were rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” by the health and social care provider regulator. Oldham, Liverpool City, and Trafford, followed by Hackney and Bradford City made up the rest of the top 10.
When performance was looked at regionally, there was a partial north-south divide. Overall, a third of care homes in the North West were found to be performing badly, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (32.2%), the South East (28.2%), and the North East (25.6%).
Meanwhile, the highest proportions of care homes performing well were found in London, the East of England (20.8%) and the South West (21.1%).
Three local authority areas – Council of the Isles of Scilly, Islington, and Rutland – had no poorly performing care homes in their areas, while Richmond upon Thames, and Thurrock Council had 2.3% and 2.9% respectively.
“The way in which services are run by providers is the most critical factor in ensuring a high quality of care”
Independent Age director of policy Simon Bottery said the research showed central government and councils were not giving the problem of poorly performing care homes “the attention it deserves”.
He said: “The government has an opportunity to address this in its upcoming green paper on social care but, in the meantime, councils must demonstrate that they understand the reasons for care home failures and are working to resolve them.”
“No one should be forced to live in an unsatisfactory care home but our analysis shows this is the grim reality in some parts of the country,” he added.
Linda Thomas, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said the findings were a “concern and something councils take very seriously”.
She said: “This report looks at all care homes, and although councils commission a significant proportion of places in care homes, nationally more than 40% of places in care homes are purchased by individuals not councils, and not all care homes have contracts with councils.
“The fees councils pay, the contracts they manage and the support offered all contribute to performance levels,” she said. “But crucially, it is the way in which services are run by providers that is the most critical factor in ensuring a high quality of care.”
Ms Thomas added that the report highlighted the need for an urgent review of social care funding.
Margaret Willcox, president elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said 71% of social care services were rated as “good”, but highlighted the CQC’s warning that the sustainability of the care market was approaching a tipping point.
She said: “Reductions in funding, increased demand by people living longer and with more complex needs, and the cost of the national living wage, while welcome, are putting significant pressures on councils and providers who are finding it hard to recruit and retain staff, especially in home care in those areas of high employment.”
Care Home Performance Across England, as of January 2017
|Region||% of homes rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’|
|East of England||20.8%|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||32.2%|