Care homes in crisis as number of 'inadequate' ratings surge since pandemic

Care homes - Nathan Laine
Care homes - Nathan Laine

Charities have warned of a crisis in care homes after the number of "inadequate" ratings surged following the pandemic.

More than half of residential homes reported on by inspectors this year were rated either inadequate or requiring improvement - up from less than a third in 2019.

Failings uncovered in previously “good” homes in recent months include people left in bed “for months”, pain medicine not being administered, violence between residents and malnutrition.

Nearly one in 10 care homes in England that offer dementia support reported on by Care Quality Commission inspectors in 2022 were given the very worst rating – more than three times the ratio in 2019, according to Guardian analysis.

While 880 dementia care homes were rated good this year, 160 were rated inadequate.

Crisis happening 'behind closed doors'

Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives and Residents Association said: “This national crisis is happening behind closed doors but in plain view of those with the power and duty to protect the rights of people placed in the most vulnerable of positions who often cannot speak up for themselves."

Since Covid, inspectors have been increasingly making “risk-based” assessments going in mostly when concerns have been raised, which the CQC said may account for a slight increase in the worst ratings.

But the proportion of care homes in England which offer dementia services branded inadequate by the CQC more than tripled from 2 per cent to 9 per cent between 2019 and 2022, while the percentage found to be good or outstanding fell from 71 per cent to 49 per cent.

At homes in England where the ratings had dropped from “good” to “inadequate” resident’s dressings weren’t changed for 20 days, carpets were left in a “filthy” condition and equipment was “encrusted with dirt”, the inspectors reports showed.

'Too little' done to help social care recover from pandemic

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: “There’s no real sense the Government has a grip on the problem.

“Too little has been done to help social care recover from the battering it received during the pandemic, let alone improve.”

According to recent inspection reports one inspector had to break up a fight between residents in a home where there were “not always enough staff deployed to meet people’s needs and keep them safe”.

In a Derbyshire home where pain medicine ran out, inhalers went uncleaned and none of the staff were trained in managing falls, one resident fell from their bed or chair 12 times in four weeks.

Kate Terroni, the chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC said: “It is essential that people living with dementia receive the best possible care.

“We are committed to supporting providers to drive improvements in dementia care in England. As part of our new strategy we are changing the way we regulate services and support our teams to better understand the care people with dementia receive.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have committed to double the funding for dementia research to £160m a year by 2024/25.”