Third of nursing homes in England failing on safety

While the majority of adult social services are improving, too many people across England are receiving care in care homes that is not good enough, a new report has found.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) The state of adult social care services 2014 to 2017 report found that 37 per cent of nursing homes were failing patients on safety, with inspectors noting they had a particular problems recruiting and retaining nurses.

Having completed inspections for all 24,000 services in the sector, including residential homes, nursing homes, care in people’s own homes, Shared Lives schemes and supported living services, the inspectorate reported that nearly a fifth of services were rated as Requires Improvement, with 343 locations still rated as Inadequate.

On the other hand, 16,351 (77 per cent) of adult social care services are currently rated as Good and 353 (two per cent) currently rated as Outstanding, with strong leaders recognised as playing a pivotal role in high-performing services.

Analysing the findings by region, the East of England showed almost 10 per cent more locations rated as good or outstanding than the North West. Nursing homes remain the biggest concern in all locations.

While the sector performed best in how ‘caring’ its services were, with 92 per cent being rated as Good and three per cent as Outstanding in this key question, safety is where CQC has found its greatest concerns, with 23 per cent of services being rated as Requires Improvement and two per cent as Inadequate. Issues uncovered by CQC include ineffective systems and processes for managing medicines or determining staffing levels, which can result in people not getting their prescribed medicines, call bells not being answered, and home visits being rushed or missed.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of Adult Social Care, said: "Last October, CQC gave a stark warning that adult social care was approaching a tipping point. This was driven by more people with increasingly complex conditions needing care but in a challenging economic climate, facing greater difficulties in accessing the care they need.

"While this report focuses on our assessment of quality and not on the wider context, with the deterioration we are seeing in services rated as Good together with the struggle to improve for those with Inadequate and Requires Improvement ratings, the danger of adult social care approaching its tipping point has not disappeared. If it tips, it will mean even more poor care, less choice and more unmet need for people.

"Quality must be at the heart of the long term reform of social care in England. CQC will continue to keep its relentless focus on quality with regulation becoming more targeted, risk-based and intelligence-driven over the next few years. But we cannot do it alone. Everyone must play their part in making sure quality matters and that adult social care services provide care that we would all be happy to use."