Four in ten care homes are failing inspections, a new report has revealed, with over 2,000 residential and nursing homes across the country deemed inadequate or in need of improvement.
The investigation, which was carried out by the Daily Mail, collated recent inspection data for 5,361 care homes in England, and found that over 2,000 were failing in areas like safety and hygiene. This means that around 70,000 vulnerable elderly people are currently at risk from substandard care and poor safety and hygiene standards, with residents facing filthy accommodation, inadequate healthcare provision, and unacceptably long waits for food, drink and toilet breaks.
Theresa May Calls for ‘Overhaul’ of Social Care Services
So damning is the Mail’s report that Prime Minister Theresa May has intervened, labelling the care failings ‘unacceptable’ and calling for a complete overhaul of the social care system. A spokesperson for the PM has since said that extra funding will be provided to improve care home standards, though it’s not yet clear how much the government plans to inject into the struggling sector.
Mrs May said: “We are providing extra funding into social care and we want to make sure that people are able to live in good standard homes. Any reports of abuse in care homes or conditions which are not acceptable are worrying. That is why we have put in place a robust inspection regime.”
The report comes in the wake of a string of similar investigations into the state of social housing for elderly people, including the CQC’s comprehensive care home report, which revealed that one in three care homes in England is failing on safety.
But while the CQC based its findings on care home investigations dating back to 2014, the Mail’s report lists current care home ratings — arguably making the figures more troubling. English care homes are given one of four ratings by the CQC: outstanding, good, requires improvement, or inadequate. So far this year, 2,000 of the 5,361 investigated by the Mail have received the worst two ratings, with only 86 receiving the highest rating of outstanding.
Commenting on the Mail’s findings, Andrew Percy of the health select committee said: “We are a number of years on from when some of the appalling abuses in care homes were first highlighted. The country has not got to grips with how we care for our increasingly ageing population — which is deeply concerning.”
Mr Percy’s concerns echo those of Imelda Richmond, national director of Healthwatch England, who identified a “worrying culture of apathy” across the social care sector. Ms Richmond’s comments came after an independent Healthwatch investigation revealed that neglect is leaving elderly people facing filthy conditions in some UK care homes — further bolstering the need for tighter regulation and increased investment in social care.
The UK Care Crisis in Numbers
Following a wave of recent reports into the state of UK care homes, stories of abuse and neglect of the elderly are now hitting the headlines on a disturbingly regular basis. But with so many reports offering different statistics and figures, it can be difficult to appreciate the scale of the problems facing the UK’s social care sector.
With this in mind, here we list the top line figures which best illustrate the UK care home crisis:
- 5% of 14,900 care homes failed safety inspections between 2014-17 (CQC)
- 38% of 5,361 care homes inspected this year declared inadequate or in need of improvement (Daily Mail investigation)
- 1,605 civil enforcement actions have been brought by the CQC in the past two years, but only five have led to successful prosecutions of failing adult care services (CQC)
- 5,600 reports of elderly abuse were logged by GPs in 2015/16, an increase of 33% over a two-year period
- 9 in 10 care workers have witnessed abuse or neglect in care homes, with one in four witnessing physical violence towards an elderly resident (Nursing Times)
Government Promises Extra Funding— But Will it Deliver?
With the Prime Minister promising additional funding for cash-strapped care homes, could this announcement mark the beginning of the end for the UK’s care home crisis? Or is the government’s funding pledge too little too late for essential care services pushed to the breadline by years of harmful austerity?
While a much-needed cash injection would certainly help struggling nursing and residential homes cover the cost of vital extra resources, it may not go far enough in solving the “culture of apathy” issue recognised by Imelda Richmond. Getting the basics right on social care shouldn’t cost the earth, and a lack of funding is no excuse for the abhorrent reports of elderly abuse and neglect which have surfaced over the past couple of years.
What is needed, beyond simple monetary relief, is an assessment of how care homes safeguard the basic rights and health of vulnerable elderly residents, to put an end to the unacceptable cases of abuse and neglect which have been allowed to continue for far too long in care homes up and down the country.
At Hudgell Solicitors, we have long campaigned for greater safeguarding measures for vulnerable elderly people, including the introduction of mandatory CCTV systems in all UK care homes. Though controversial, we believe such measures are necessary in ending the scourge of neglect and abuse cases which continue to blight our social care system.
If you or a loved one has been affected by care home abuse or neglect, our experienced solicitors can offer free, no obligation advice on making a no win no fee compensation claim. To find out more, visit our care home abuse page or contact our team today.