REVEALED: Nearly half of inspected Portsmouth care homes '˜not up to standard'

A city councillor has warned care homes in Portsmouth will never be up to scratch unless health workers are given more incentives to stay in their jobs.

Thursday, 13th April 2017, 3:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:56 pm
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, from the Liberal Democrats. Picture: Sarah Standing

New figures show nearly half of care homes inspected in Portsmouth need to be bought up to standard.

A total of 13 out of 29 homes visited were rated either ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Milton councillor and the Liberal Democrats’ spokesman for adult social care, said the figures are down to low wages for care workers and the treatment of staff born elsewhere in the European Union.

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According to the new research, compiled by Independent Age, 6.9 per cent of Portsmouth care homes inspected were rated ‘inadequate - the lowest rating given.

There are 50 care homes within the local authority area with 21 still to be inspected by health watchdog Care Quality Commission under their new system, started in May last year.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We have a whole mix of different organisations looking after care homes and one of those is the [city] council, which gives a pay rise to most people working there unless you are one of the lowest paid, like those working in health and social care, because it has been frozen.’

He said money had been wasted on discontinued care home projects, including about £500,000 which was spent on a plan to build a dementia care home in Farlington last year.

Hilsea Lodge was rated 'requires improvement' last month. Picture: Matt Scott-Joynt

The scheme was later scrapped after construction costs for the 1.7-acre East Lodge Park site ballooned from £5m to £8m.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘My mum has been moving between care homes, and I have seen how many people from the European Union are working there and in the hospital.

‘The government, in its [Brexit] negotiations, say they will not give these people the certainty they will stay, and they have no incentive to stay here.

‘The NHS would collapse without them.’

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Portsmouth City Council manages three care homes in the city - Edinburgh Lodge in Cosham, Hilsea Lodge in Hilsea and Shearwater in Milton - while the rest are privately managed.

All three are rated ‘requires improvement’, but only Hilsea has been inspected under the new system.

Councillor Luke Stubbs, city council cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said plans were in place to improve care homes in the city.

He said: ‘These numbers are a little bit of a disappointment but that reflects the age of a lot of the buildings.

Hilsea Lodge was rated 'requires improvement' last month. Picture: Matt Scott-Joynt

‘We have a lot of large Victorian buildings and inevitably they have a hard time reaching the required standards. But at many of the council-run care homes the standard of care is very good.’

The research shows five local authority areas - Stockport, Salford, Tameside, Manchester and Kensington and Chelsea - have more than half of their inspected care homes rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.

Simon Bottery, director of policy at Independent Age, said: ‘No one should be forced to live in an unsatisfactory care home but our analysis shows this is the grim reality in some parts of the country.

‘The market is simply not providing a decent choice for older people and their families but there is little indication that local authorities or the government are giving the problem the attention it deserves.’