Care home failings exposed by Which? investigationPotential abuse & dirt among problems uncovered

19 April 2011

Inadequate food, unclean and unsafe environments, understimulated and inactive residents and one case of possible abuse. These are some of the things Which? discovered in its investigation of care homes, where we asked three actors to spend a week of their lives in four randomly chosen residential and nursing homes. 

Although there is good practice in some care homes, poor treatment clearly exists. We also found that even when official inspections had identified failings, they were not always being rectified. This can’t go on and Which? is calling for a good standard of care for all vulnerable older people.

Which? members can click to read the full care homes investigation article. Not a member? You can sign up to Which? for as little as £1 per month for the first three months.

See our experts and actors talk about the findings in our video report:

 

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Potential abuse

Experts were so concerned by one member of staff’s behaviour, and the care offered in the home, that Which? reported the care home to the regulator. Admissions were immediately suspended and the potential abuse is being investigated. 

Which? working for change

We met with the relevant regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to address the problems in the homes and to share our concerns about the industry. We’ll also be meeting with Age UK - which is running a programme to improve care in homes - in the hope of working together.

The CQC said it took our findings seriously. It acted to immediately suspend admissions at one home and provided a report outlining the action being taken at each of the homes. Its chair, Jo Williams, told us: ‘We listen to the views and experiences of people in order to identify possible risks. Almost all inspections are unannounced. Where necessary, we require improvements against clear timescales, following up to ensure these are delivered.’

The CQC has a new system for regulating providers of health care and adult social care. Our challenge to the CQC is for it to do better for every home. So that if we repeated this research again in a year or two, we wouldn’t find a system that’s failing our most vulnerable older people.

Visit the campaigns section of our website to find out more about the results of our and what improvements we want. You can also check out our advice on and .

Want to know more about Which? investigations? Find out which companies potentially broke the law in our solar panels investigation and learn about the big brand companies - including Marks & Spencer, Npower and Tesco - who gave us poor advice about cavity wall insulation.

Have your say on the findings of our care homes investigation by joining the debate on Which? Conversation.