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Quality of care is getting worse, says Independent Age

March 6, 2019

The quality of care homes has worsened in the last year in more than a third of local authorities, according to older people’s charity Independent Age.

With more than 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), the charity says many older people and their families have no choice but to choose a poorly-performing care home.

Independent Age analysed a snapshot of the CQC’s inspection data in January 2018 and January 2019, and found:

  • More than a third (37%) of local authorities saw a drop in performance between the two dates. This is an increase on the 22% of local authorities where care home quality worsened between 2017 and 2018 .
  • In Manchester, 44% of care homes were rated ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’
  • There were 16 local authority areas where between 30%-40% of care homes attracted these ratings.

The 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 Independent Age says they could be used to help tackle poor performance.

The charity is calling for urgent action to end poor and inadequate quality of care and 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,” said George McNamara, director of policy and influencing at Independent Age.

“These findings are truly alarming, and show thousands of vulnerable older people live in homes that are failing to deliver even the bare minimum.

“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.

“Essentially, the Government continues to stand by and do nothing to address the quality of care suffered by older people, many of whom live with conditions such as dementia, and who are being robbed of their ability to enjoy life as much as possible.

“As well as being dangerous, poor care is miserable, involving things like being woken up in the night to be dressed or taken to the toilet because of staff shortages. Care homes are where many of us will live out our final months. No life should end in misery.”

George McNamara

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