One in four care homes ‘inadequate’ or ‘require improvement’

More than 77,000 beds for older people in England are in sub-standard homes, Which? has discovered.

Which?’s research into the homes, rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), uncovered big variations in quality between the largest providers: 35 per cent of Four Seasons’ homes in England were rated inadequate or requiring improvement, compared with just 15 per cent of Sanctuary Care’s homes.

Four Seasons was the worst regional provider in the analysis of care homes for older people in the West Midlands, East and South West of England. It came 43rd out of 54 providers overall.

At the top of the table, however, both Avery and North Yorkshire County Council had all their homes rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Homes rated poorly overall are meant to be re-inspected more regularly, but Which? found that several of the worst-rated homes haven’t been inspected in over a year.

If a home is in special measures, an inspection is required within six months. But one care home in special measures in Cumbria, for example, hasn’t been inspected between April 2016 and December 2017.

Inspectors found ‘multiple breaches of legal requirements’, ‘evidence that people were being exposed to harm or the serious risk of harm’, with a number of ‘unhygienic and dirty’ areas.

Which? is calling on the government to act urgently on the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) recommendations on information provision, complaints and unfair charges, and to use its Green Paper to set out how it will deliver a sustainable system that provides affordable, high-quality care for all.

Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said: “Too few providers are able to offer consistent, high-quality care – limiting choice for stressed families in a system which is already close to breaking point.

“The government must tackle issues highlighted by the CMA now and then turn to the bigger changes needed to ensure everyone has access to the care they need.”

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