Sub-standard homes level a real concern

Sub-standard homes level a real concern
Sub-standard homes level a real concern

Council bosses say care home standards are improving in Wigan amid fears the elderly are being forced into sub-standard facilities through a lack of choice.

A report by old people’s charity Independent Age said 42 per cent of borough care homes are rated as either requires improvement or inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The North West has also been identified as one of the worst performing regions with 33 per cent of homes performing poorly.

Stockport, Salford, Tameside and Manchester, for example, all have more than 50 per cent falling below that level.

However, Wigan Council says the figures, collated in January, are out of date with 70 per cent rates as good, 30 per cent requires improvement and no inadequate ratings.

Simon Bottery, director of policy at Independent Age, said: “No one should be forced to live in an unsatisfactory care home but our analysis shows this is the grim reality in some parts of the country.

“The market is simply not providing a decent choice for older people and their families but there is little indication that local authorities or the Government are giving the problem the attention it deserves.

“Money is likely to be one cause but not the only one. The Government has an opportunity to address this in its upcoming Green Paper on social care but, in the meantime, councils must demonstrate that they understand the reasons for care home failures and are working to resolve them.”

The charity said the variation in quality was caused by low levels of funding by local authorities, difficulties recruiting staff, and low pay, as well as a lack of a support mechanism for improving struggling homes.

The government has recently announced the ailing social care system will be boosted by an extra £2bn over the next three years.

Wigan Council, like many others, has imposed a council tax hike with the proceeds ring-fenced to help plug adult social care budget deficits.

Jo Willmott, Wigan’s assistant director for provider management and market development, said: “The council has used The Deal to transform residential and nursing care and quality assurance.

“We are committed to sustaining a high quality, affordable care home market, provided by a well led and motivated workforce delivering kind and compassionate care.

“We are working with providers to make all care homes a great place to live and work.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “While 77 per cent of care services inspected in England are rated good or outstanding, we want to see those standards replicated everywhere - and places that are not up to scratch will have to improve or risk being closed down.”