Nursing homes in crisis as the number of ‘inadequate’ assessments has risen since the pandemic

Nursing Homes – Nathan Laine

Charities have warned of a crisis in care homes after the number of ‘inadequate’ assessments soared in the wake of the pandemic.

More than half of the residential homes reported by inspectors this year were deemed inadequate or in need of improvement, up from less than a third in 2019.

Faults discovered in previously ‘good’ homes in recent months include people left bedridden ‘for months’, painkillers not being administered, violence between residents and malnutrition.

Nearly one in 10 care homes in England offering dementia support reported by Care Quality Commission inspectors in 2022 received the worst score, 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 underway “behind closed doors”

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

Post-Covid, inspectors have increasingly carried out “risk-based” assessments, mainly when concerns have been raised, which the CQC says may explain a slight increase in worst-case ratings.

But the proportion of care homes in England offering dementia services rated as inadequate by the CQC more than tripled from 2% to 9% between 2019 and 2022, while the proportion rated as good or exceptional dropped from 71% to 49% hundred.

In homes in England, where ratings had dropped from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’, residents’ dressings were not changed for 20 days, carpets were left in a ‘dirty’ condition and equipment was ‘caked with grime’,​ ​they showed the reports of the inspectors.

‘Too little’ done to help social care recover from the pandemic

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s director of charities, said: ‘It makes no sense for the government to be in control of the problem.

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

According to recent inspection reports, an inspector had to break up a fight between residents in a house where “there weren’t always enough staff to meet people’s needs and keep them safe”.

In a Derbyshire home where painkillers have run out, inhalers have not been cleaned and none of the staff have been trained in how to handle falls, a resident fell out of bed or chair 12 times in four weeks.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Welfare 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 spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We are committed to doubling funding for dementia research to £160m a year by 2024/25.’

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