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One in four social care services failing on safety, regulator warns

Care Quality Commission report says 23% of care homes, nursing homes and home care services require improvement on safety and a further 2% are inadequate.
Home inspection

One in four social care services are failing on safety, according to Englands health and social care regulator.

Analysis by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows that 23% of care homes, nursing homes and home care services require improvement on safety, while a further 2% are inadequate. Almost 20,000 people are cared for in the 343 services rated as inadequate.

Completely unacceptable

Issues highlighted by inspectors include people being washed and dressed and then put back to bed to make it easier for staff, residents not getting enough to eat and drink, and people not receiving help to go to the toilet in time.

Among nursing homes, which care for people with the highest level of need, one in three are failing on safety, the CQC said.

One in four social care services are failing on safety, according to England’s health and social care regulator.


Care Quality Commission inspectors raised concerns about services dropping down the ratings. Picture: iStock

Analysis by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows that 23% of care homes, nursing homes and home care services require improvement on safety, while a further 2% are inadequate. Almost 20,000 people are cared for in the 343 services rated as inadequate.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Issues highlighted by inspectors include people being washed and dressed and then put back to bed to make it easier for staff, residents not getting enough to eat and drink, and people not receiving help to go to the toilet in time.

Among nursing homes, which care for people with the highest level of need, one in three are failing on safety, the CQC said.

Inspectors also raised concerns about organisations dropping down the ratings, with a quarter of those last rated as good having deteriorated since their last inspection.

CQC chief inspector of adult social care Andrea Sutcliffe said some of the issues raised by inspectors ‘have a profound impact on people’s lives’. The failings in basic care were ‘completely and utterly unacceptable’ in a modern age, she said.

Failures to carry out proper checks on staff and poor staff training were also highlighted by inspectors.

Across five indicators – including safety, leadership and whether a service is caring, effective and responsive to people’s needs – the CQC found 2% of services are inadequate, 19% require improvement, 77% are good and 2% are outstanding.

Recruitment issues

Ms Sutcliffe said while most services are good and should be praised, ‘nursing homes continue to be the worry area’, with only 67% rated as good.

She said many were struggling to retain and recruit good quality nursing staff, which affects their ability to provide good services.

Commenting on the findings, RCN senior employment relations adviser Gary Kirwan said: ‘Since the Government cut funding to local authorities, attracting and retaining social care staff has been extremely difficult. Healthcare assistants work under considerable pressure and are often spread so thin that they are unable to give older people the support they would want.

‘When care staff are paid minimum wage, getting a job in a supermarket can seem more appealing. Some carers are not even paid for the time it takes to travel between home visits. The few remaining registered nurses in the sector are overstretched and responsible for a large number of staff and residents.’

Mr Kirwan said care providers must improve pay and conditions to make it a more attractive career, but underfunding of services is a big issue.

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: ‘While this report shows that the vast majority of people receive good or outstanding adult social care, it is completely unacceptable that standards in some settings are below those rightly expected by care users and their families.

‘That’s why we have introduced tougher inspections of care services and provided an additional £2 billion to the sector.’


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