NATIONAL: One in four social care services are failing on safety

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ONE in four social care services are failing on safety, the care regulator has said.

Analysis by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows that 23 per cent of care homes, nursing homes and home care services require improvement on safety, while a further 2 per cent are inadequate.

Almost 20,000 people are cared for in the 343 services rated as inadequate.

Issues seen 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 getting help to go to the toilet in time.

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

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

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said some of the issues raised by inspectors ‘have a profound impact on people’s lives’.

She said: ‘From a safety perspective, it may be, are there enough staff available to provide the care people need in their own homes?

‘If there is not, it may mean people have missed calls, people may be late to be supported to go to the toilet, to have the food and medication they need.

‘These are things you do not want to be happening to your loved one.

‘If you’re in a residential or nursing home, it may be that there are not enough checks and balances in place to ensure people are getting the right medication and the right support to eat and to drink.’

She said failing services do not always treat people with dignity and respect.

‘So, services where we have gone in first thing in the morning and we’ve found people who have been got out of bed, washed, dressed and put back to bed because it’s easier for the night staff to do it than the day staff,’ added Ms Sutcliffe.

The chief inspector also said other issues included a reliance upon agency staff who do not necessarily know the people they were caring for and were therefore not able to provide the services needed.

A failure to carry out proper checks on staff and poor staff training had also been highlighted by inspectors.

More than 21,000 adult social care services in England have been given a rating by the CQC in five areas: safety, leadership, and whether a service is caring, effective and responsive to people’s needs.

Across these five indicators, 19 per cent of services require improvement, two per cent are inadequate, 77 per cent are good, and two per cent are outstanding.

Ms Sutcliffe said: ‘Nursing homes continue to be the worry area, with only 67 per cent rated as good.

‘Many of these homes are struggling to retain and recruit good quality nursing staff and this has an impact on their ability to provide good services”.

Just over 1,800 services rated as good previously have now been re-inspected.

Of these, a quarter have deteriorated from good, including 5% that are now rated as inadequate.

Shadow health minister, Barbara Keeley, said: ‘This report confirms that the social care funding crisis caused by this government is now seriously affecting the quality of care across the country.

‘Behind these statistics are thousands of vulnerable adults failing to get the medicines they have been prescribed, being ignored when they ask for help or having home visits missed.’