NEWS COMMENT: Government must work with local authorities
Would you be happy to spend your later years in a care home? Or for your mother or father to do so?
Judging by our shocking report today that more than half of care homes in Portsmouth are inadequate or require improvement, the answer may well be no.
Data from the Care Quality Commission, which has been analysed by consumer body Which?, reveals that nearly three in five beds in Portsmouth are in care homes which have been given one or other of the two worst ratings possible.
That gives the city the fifth worst ranking in 150 local authority areas across the country.
So how has this happened? Why are home owners not providing the levels of care that residents and their families have every right to expect?
The reality is that they are struggling financially after seeing a rise in staff costs because of changes to the national living wage and a fall in the fees that local authorities contribute towards the cost of patient care.
Placements are often funded by councils’ social care budgets, which have been slashed across the country by the government.
So the perception that care home owners are running highly profitable businesses is no longer true.
Some have simply been unable to balance the books and closed down.
Those that remain have had to work with less money and this has led to a reduced level of care. Add to that the difficulty of attracting the right calibre of staff in a sector that traditionally sees high turnover and you begin to understand the size of the problem.
As the need for adult social care increases, central government must work with local authorities to ensure the care home market doesn’t deteriorate further.