Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Alarming figures on the quality of residential elderly provision say Action on Elder Abuse

Thousands of care homes across England do not have a registered manager, and hundreds have significant breaches of standards which place thousands of older people at risk of poor care and worse, according to new information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Figures obtained by Action on Elder Abuse (see below) show that, at the start of July, more than 3,000 active care homes had conditions placed upon them by the Regulator requiring them to have a registered manager in place, (the person legally responsible and legally accountable for every aspect of running the home), with 16% of them waiting for CQC clearance. And, of equal concern, all four of the primary residential care providers had large numbers of homes with significant breaches of standards – Four Seasons 32% of all homes, BUPA 26% of all homes, Southern Cross 24% of all homes, and Barchester 17% of all homes.


“At a time when serious questions are being asked about the quality of care provision for older people and whether or not the regulator is ‘fit for purpose’, and when the Government is considering a wider role for the private sector in health and care provision, these figures demonstrate a frightening picture of the state of residential care in England,” said Gary FitzGerald, Chief Executive of Action on Elder Abuse. “The registered manager holds a crucial role in establishing and maintaining standards of quality and to have so many homes with requirements of this type is appalling.”

Significant breaches of standards include situations where homes fail to employ a registered manager; where there are insufficient staff to adequately provide for residents; where the most needy patients fail to receive help when dressing or eating; where medicines are not properly stored, or administered at prescribed intervals; and where health and safety of residents is put at risk.

CQC have confirmed that there were 10,856 inspections of care homes between the 1st April 2009 and the 31st March 2010, while in the following year there were only 3,805. Inspectors were diverted to the registration process, away from their primary function, but the public were not told.

Continued FitzGerald, “Given the frightening reduction in the number of overall inspections – some 65% in a year - it is hardly surprising to see so many significant breaches of standards now occurring. Face to face inspections, not desk top reviews, are the only effective way of monitoring compliance and the regulator has been quietly withdrawing from these methods, leaving many Local Authorities struggling to fill the gap created.”

“CQC information in June may have given the impression that Southern Cross was the major problem in the sector but, as these figures show, this was misleading. We are witnessing a sector wide problem and it is worth noting that, wit he closure of Southern Cross, many of their care homes are just transferring to other existing care provider companies, some of whom have serious breaches of standards.”

Concluded FitzGerald, “The situation facing the care home sector is complex, and the implications for thousands of older people is profound. We need a sensible and urgent discussion about the causes of this shambles, and not all the blame can be laid at the door of individual care providers. Bad commissioning by local authorities plays a major part, as do the failures of CQC which, at the very least, should ensure that the information they provide is given in sufficient context to allow it to be fully understood”.

“It would be very wrong to conclude that these problems can be solved by the closure of any single care provider. Unless the overall quality of residential care is substantially raised we are simply witnessing the transfer of older people within a sector that is struggling to cope, and failing. We need a regulator who will adopt a robust approach to raising standards, we need abusive care providers held to account, and we need funding for care homes appropriate to the care and support they are required to perform.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information on this news release please call 020 8835 9280.

1. Action on Elder Abuse is a national charity which aims to protect, and prevent the abuse of, vulnerable older people. It does this by raising awareness of the issues, encouraging education and by giving information and support to those in need. It has the only national freephone helpline dedicated to this cause and callers may ring from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9.00am and 5.00pm on 080 8808 8141 from the UK or 1800 940 010 from the Republic of Ireland for confidential support and information. For further information on Action on Elder Abuse go to website: www.elderabuse.org.uk

Freedom of Information Questions and answers.

a) How many Southern Cross care homes had registrations lodged with CQC which were awaiting CQC completion last October?

The Commission is unable to report on the number of Southern Cross Care Homes that had registrations lodged and awaiting completion.

The Commission do not record this historically and figures are only available for the current registrations awaiting completion. This is because the data is held in a ‘live system’ so the information can only be extracted on a minute by minute basis.

b) How many care homes in total (all care home providers) did not have a manager last October?

The Commission is unable to report on the total care homes that did not have a manager.

We can provide details of adult social care locations had conditions stating they must have a manager in place. This however does not reflect how many of these locations did not actually have a manager.

977 adult social care locations had conditions stating they must have a manager in place.

It should also be noted in October 2010 the registration process had not been completed and therefore this is not a true and accurate reflection of how many adult social care locations would be required to have a manager in place.

c) How many of these had registrations lodged with CQC which were awaiting CQC completion?

The Commission is unable to report on the number registrations lodged and awaiting completion.

The Commission do not record this historically and figures are only available for the current registrations awaiting completion. This is because the data is held in a ‘live system’ so the information can only be extracted on a minute by minute basis.

d) How many care homes in total (all care home providers) at end May 2011 did not have a manager?

The Commission is unable to report on the total care homes that did not have a manager.

We can provide details of adult social care locations had conditions stating they must have a manager in place. This however does not reflect how many of these locations did not actually have a manager.

Figures for the end of May 2011 are not available but, as at 6th July 2011, there are 3,011 active care homes with conditions which state they must have a registered manager in place.

e) How many of these had registrations lodged with CQC which were awaiting CQC completion?

Applications for registered managers are attached to the provider and not individual location (in this instance, care homes). 482 of the 3,011 care homes above are owned by providers which currently have manager registrations in progress.

f) I additionally note that CQC has released data on inspections which is specific to Southern Cross (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jun/12/watchdog-condemns-standards-28-per-cent-southern-cross-homes)i.e. that the company has breached standards at 164 care homes, the equivalent of 28% of its English estate. These are described by CQC as "non-routine conditions" against the registration of those homes. In order to put this information into context, can I additionally ask for comparative data for (a) Four Seasons (b) Barchester (c) BUPA. I am presuming that this data is available in a similar format to that released by CQC on Southern Cross.

The figures as at 5th July 2011 are:

Barchester Healthcare - 17%
BUPA Group - 26%
Four Seasons Health Care Limited - 32%
Southern Cross Healthcare - 24%