More than half of care home places in some parts of England are in facilities rated as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’, according to analysis carried out by Which? of data released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
In six local authority areas, good quality care home places are so limited that 50% or more of local beds are in homes rated by CQC inspectors as requiring improvement or inadequate, making it less likely that people looking to move into a care home will able to find a good place close to home.
The lack of good quality care is particularly acute in the London borough of Westminster, where seven in ten (69%) beds were found in care homes rated poor or inadequate.
In Manchester and Wakefield, three in five beds (58%) are in care homes rated as poor or inadequate, closely followed by Kirklees (57%), Portsmouth (56%) and Tameside (55%).
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Poor quality care homes
In 45 local authority areas a third or more care places are in poor quality care homes. Nine of these councils are in the capital and include Westminster (69% of beds are in failing homes), Tower Hamlets (48%), Islington (47%), Kensington and Chelsea (46%), Newham (41%), Haringey (41%), Barnet (40%), Ealing (35%) and Harrow (33%).
While the research, which compared the quality of local provision in 151 council areas that provide adult social care, provides some worrying figures, there are a small number of areas where at least nine in 10 care home beds are in homes rated as good or outstanding. These include the Isles of Scilly (100%), Richmond upon Thames (94%), Rutland (91%) and Blackburn with Darwen (90%).
Overall, the analysis highlights the huge regional variation in the provision of quality local care across the country that exists in the current care market.
Care provision ‘could get worse’
Which? has already heard from hundreds of relatives of care home residents, who have highlighted existing problems in the current care system.
Some have had to wait years to find a suitable care home or have had to place their relative far away, as there was no suitable place available locally.
Which? is warning that this picture could get worse, as the demand for places starts to outstrip supply in an increasing number of local areas.
Previous Which? research shows that almost nine in 10 council areas across England could see a shortfall in care home places by 2022.
The research also raises questions around whether some councils will be able to continue to meet their statutory duty to offer local authority-funded individuals at least one suitable care home place that will meet the prospective resident’s needs.
Related: how to complain about a care home.
Real stories: concerns about care
Ann, from Wiltshire, and her sisters visited their mother in her care home daily for the four years she was there, and were concerned about the quality of care she received.
‘My mother had a condition that severely limited her movement and also had dementia. She needed help with eating and drinking. My sisters and I felt the need to visit daily in the care home she was in, after they simply forgot to give her any lunch a couple of times.’
‘The family felt trapped and tied to this nursing home because it was allegedly one of the best in town. We did not want to move mum out of town because then we would not have been able to visit so often or keep an eye on things. It makes me fear for my own future should I ever need a nursing home.’
Use our care home checker below to find out about the care home places in your local area.