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The postcode lottery in the provision of quality care in nursing homes

People reading the recent article by Claire Ellicott political correspondent of the Daily Mail on 27th December 2017, based upon the Care Quality Commission findings into inadequate quality of care in nursing homes will be alarmed.

CQC figures in their report reveal that in some parts of the country three quarters of nursing homes are failing.

  1. Nearly one in three (30.1 per cent) of all nursing homes ‘require improvement’ or are ‘inadequate’, according to Care Quality Commission reports.

  2. And most regions have experienced care problems, with 93 per cent of areas having homes that need improvement.

  3. In Kensington and Chelsea 75% of homes were rated as requiring improvement.

  4. Of the 5,300 homes inspected this year, 2,000 were found to be inadequate or in need of improvement

The figures highlight the postcode lottery in the provision of quality local care across the country.

More than a third of nursing homes in the North and a quarter in the South either needed improvement or were deemed inadequate.

The issue is particularly acute in central London, where Westminster has a 50 per cent rate of failing homes, despite being under the nose of MPs at the Houses of Parliament.

In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, where Grenfell Tower is situated, 75 per cent of nursing homes were rated as requiring improvement.

In Salford, 64.3 per cent or more of nursing homes were rated as ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’, while Coventry had 60 per cent and North Tyneside 62.6 per cent.

In Wakefield, 52.6 per cent, are rated as ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ while the figure in Wolverhampton is 58.3 per cent.

Elsewhere, half of nursing homes in Hull, Newham, Telford and Wrekin, the Wirral and Derby were found to be failing.

According to the Daily Mail the stark survey underlines the extent of the crisis facing England’s broken care system, which is providing substandard care despite sky-high prices.

Earlier this year, the Daily Mail revealed social care was struggling so much that four in ten care homes were failing inspections.

Of the 5,300 homes inspected this year, 2,000 were found to be inadequate or in need of improvement.

Currently, rules mean care home residents have to use their assets to pay the full costs of their care until they are reduced to their last £23,500.

The cost of their care is taken off the value of their home after they die, denying thousands of children their inheritance.

David Cameron pledged to introduce a cap of £75,000 on care costs two years ago, but this has now been shelved until after 2020.

Theresa May announced a plan for families to keep £100,000 of their assets but with no upper cap on costs during the election.

However, the pledge was abandoned after critics dubbed it the ‘dementia tax’.

The new figures were provided directly to the Labour Party by the CQC and are based on the watchdog’s most recent investigations.

Barbara Keeley, Labour’s social care spokesman, said a lack of nurse training places and bursaries had affected staffing levels.

‘Nursing care providers are struggling to recruit and retain staff because of a lack of registered nurses but similar trends are present across the care sector because of the impact of cuts on pay and conditions for other care staff,’ she said.

Last month, analysis by Which? found that more than half of all elderly care places in England are in failing care homes.

In six local authority areas, more than 50 per cent of the beds available were rated as inadequate or needing improvement.

The council in Kensington and Chelsea said its poor ratings were the result of having relatively few homes.

A spokesman said the borough was home to only around ten privately-run care homes and the small number ‘skewed’ the figures.

A report on care homes in Kensington and Chelsea from May revealed it had problems attracting low-paid staff to the most expensive area of the country.

This is another report that casts nursing homes in poor light. It is to CQC credit that they continue to bring to the attention of people, politicians and decision makers the shortfalls in quality care. However, what is surprising is the that those who represent nursing homes are not bringing more into the spotlight, the difficulties in recruiting and retaining nursing staff.

It would be wrong to criticise the efforts of providers in attempting to address the situation, when registered nurses are just not available because lack of funding for nurse training.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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