Manchester's care homes have been ranked worst in the country, with nearly half (44%) being rated 'Inadequate' or 'Requires Improvement', an Independent Age report has found.
In Manchester which, in 2019, tops the table of local authorities where care home performance is declining, Independent Age heard from one focus group participant: “I’m frightened of care homes in case I have to go in one”.
Just two care homes in the whole of Manchester were rated 'Outstanding' whilst 33 'Require Improvement' or are 'Inadequate', and 40 are 'Good'.
Nationally, more than a third of local authorities saw a drop in performance between January 2018 and January 2019, up from 22% in 2017-2018 but nowhere has fallen as low as Manchester.
For a care home to receive a ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ rating, the service must be failing to deliver the minimum quality of care that is expected. Issues highlighted in poorly rated care homes have included residents not receiving medicine as they were prescribed, and their nutrition and hydration not being monitored.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Manchester, Greg Stanton, responded:
"Unfortunately this is a distressingly similar conclusion to that of our children's services which were downgraded to inadequate in 2014.
"How can it be that we are failing both young and old people so catastrophically and so consistently?
"The truth is that the regional disparity is too stark to ignore; cities like Manchester have been left behind by the Government and their inability to get ahead of these problems.
"When older people have a real fear of care homes, or families have no choice but to choose a poorly-performing care homes, we know we are beyond breaking point.
“The Liberal Democrats are ready and willing to challenge the problems in social care. We will transform the care older people receive and reduce the inequality in provision by putting a penny in the pound on income tax to directly invest in social care and reverse the deterioration in care."
Today’s report compares the immediate action taken by Ofsted to address failing schools to the general acceptance of poorly-performing care homes. The charity believes lessons can be learned from the education sector’s approach to making improvements. Ofsted’s approaches to tackling failing schools have included a comprehensive improvement plan, such as management changes, arranging for expert help from other schools as well as regular re-inspections. These tactics are not consistently employed across the care home sector, but could be used to help tackle poor performance.
Independent Age is also calling for urgent action to end the poor and inadequate quality of care. Residents and their families fund care homes, as well as taxpayers, but increasingly are not getting value for money. The charity is also calling on the government to finalise a sustainable long term funding settlement for social care now. Only with a substantial investment which puts social care on a sustainable footing, can the Government truly resource the sector so that it can tackle unacceptable variations in quality.
George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age, commented:
“These findings are truly alarming, and show thousands of vulnerable older people live in homes that are failing to deliver even the bare minimum.
“Years of dithering by the government, and the failure to reform the social care system, is a main cause of increased pressures on the care home market and more areas with poor performers. Unless the forthcoming Green Paper is bold and ambitious, it will do little to address the crisis in care.
“Essentially, the government continues to stand by and do nothing to address the quality of care suffered by older people, many of whom live with conditions such as dementia, and who are being robbed of their ability to enjoy life as much as possible.
“As well as being dangerous, poor care is miserable, involving things like being woken up in the night to be dressed or taken to the toilet because of staff shortages. Care homes are where many of us will live out our final months. No life should end in misery.”