There has been an increase in the percentage of council areas where the quality of care homes has deteriorated, according to research.
A briefing published today by charity Independent Age says 37% of areas experienced an overall worsening of care home ratings issued by the Care Quality Commission in 2018-19, compared to 22% in 2017-18.
Independent Age says this means 2.5 million older people live in the 56 council areas where the quality of care homes has deteriorated, increasing the chances that they face a narrower range of care choices.
Manchester City Council has the highest percentage of care homes in its area rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ in 2018-19, despite having the lowest annual increase in the percentage of homes which received a worse rating (0.2%).
Portsmouth City Council has the second highest proportion of care homes rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ (39.5%) followed by Isle of Wight Council (37.8%). Kingston upon Thames RBC and West Berkshire Council had the lowest percentage of 2.4%, excluding Isles of Scilly.
The highest increase in the proportion of homes that received a worsening CQC rating in 2018-19 was in Southwark (18.2%), followed by Luton (15.1%) and Blackburn with Darwen (13.8%).
As well as Manchester, Dorset, Doncaster and Waltham Forest had a rate of quality deterioration of less than 0.5%.
George McNamara, director of policy and influencing at Independent Age, described the findings as “truly alarming”.
He added: “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.”
Responding to the findings, Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the existence of a “postcode lottery” of access to quality care is “both a highly personal and a national tragedy”.
He added: “Our population is changing, and demand is growing. However, with no long-term funding plan in place, the sombre truth is that people will face reduced choice and delays when it comes to deciding what care will work best for them.”