More than one third of care homes in England are failing safety inspections, with falls, drug errors and lack of staff leaving vulnerable elderly people at risk.
The shocking findings come as part of a review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which oversees safety standards across England’s 4,000 care and residential homes.
In 2014, the CQC introduced a tougher inspection system amid fears that social care problems were going undetected. This recent review is the first time the CQC has unveiled its findings since the system was launched, and the results paint a damning picture.
Of the 24,000 social care services operating in England, residential care homes performed the worst, with 37% failing safety inspections. Given that over 200,000 elderly people rely on residential care, such failings are wholly unacceptable and should be addressed as a matter of urgency to guarantee the safeguarding of our vulnerable elderly.
Since launching its tougher inspection regime, the CQC has taken enforcement action against 1,000 care providers, successfully prosecuting five organisations. Others have been forced to close down until safety and hygiene failings are addressed, and the commission continues to monitor and re-inspect services deemed to be falling below the expected standard.
In its review, the CQC refers to several cases of poor care reported by its inspectors, bringing to light the scale of neglect, error and abuse vulnerable elderly people are exposed to in England’s underperforming care services. These include:
- Cases where elderly residents were left in bed all day because there weren’t enough staff to provide help and support, increasing the risk of pressure sores and ulceration.
- The death of a man who suffered a broken neck after falling from a mobility shower chair in a West Yorkshire residential home.
- Cases where incontinence pads weren’t changed regularly, and in some instances reused.
- Several medication errors, including the case of an elderly resident who died after being given the wrong type of blood-clotting drug.
- Incidents involving serious burns, including the case of Kathleen Waters, a 79-year old woman left scarred after falling into a radiator in a care home in London.
The CQC’s chief inspector, Andrea Sutcliffe, acknowledged that government cuts to social care spending remain a major issue for the sector, stating that a “long-term solution” was needed to solve the current care crisis. However, she also said that a lack of money was no excuse for such failings.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Sutcliffe said: “It appears to be increasingly difficult for some providers to deliver the safe, high-quality and compassionate care people deserve and have every right to expect. With demand for social care expected to rise over the next two decades, this is more worrying than ever.”
Is England’s Social Care System ‘Disintegrating’?
Results from the CQC’s social care review come amid a climate of concern for the future of social care in the UK. Last week, a report emerged showing that cases of elderly abuse and neglect have risen by a third, with GPs referring more patients to social care services than ever before.
Of the poll of 800 GPs, 60% said they were unable to secure the appropriate social care for elderly patients, leaving many vulnerable people exposed to further abuse and neglect. The fact that social care services are unable to respond appropriately to abuse and neglect referrals is particularly concerning in light of the latest CQC review — suggesting that the safety of vulnerable elderly people is being put at risk due to lack of resources and a lack of steps towards improving safety standards.
With social care services at breaking point and evidence showing that neglect and abuse are rife in many care and residential homes, more must be done to safeguard the vulnerable elderly in the long and short term.
At Hudgell Solicitors, we continue to push for CCTV systems to be made mandatory in UK care homes as part of our Love Our Vulnerable Elderly campaign. We believe CCTV technology could lead to improved standards in residential and care homes, making it possible to monitor care providers and prevent future cases of abuse and neglect.
For more information on our work in helping victims of care home abuse and neglect, click here or contact our team today.