The nation’s care homes are facing an acute shortage of good-quality managers, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned.
It said that 1,000 homes – more than 5% of the national total - had failed to comply with new legal requirements to appoint a registered manager, and that a shortage of suitable staff was recognised in the sector.
Chief executive Cynthia Bower, right, said she did not believe the situation posed a direct risk to patients and residents, but that those homes without a registered manager may be less able to identify potential concerns and address them quickly.
Some 15,000 homes are currently operating across the nation, but 1,000 of them have failed to comply with the requirements of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, which came into effect on 1 October.
Homes that have not appointed a registered manager have been given until April 1 rectify the situation.
Ms Bower said the process of registering care services undertaken by the CQC since it came into existence last year had thrown the management shortage into relief, and that it was a situation that could not be allowed to go on.
“The lack of a registered manager does not necessarily mean that people are receiving poor care, but we know from experience that care services without leadership can struggle to address any problems that may arise,” she said.
“We know that some providers struggle to find suitably qualified people to take on this role. The sector as a whole needs to take a robust approach to seeking solutions to the shortage of registered managers.
“It cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. We will use our enforcement powers in the best interests of people who use services.
“If a care provider is genuinely trying to appoint a registered manager and the quality of care is good, it might not be in the service users’ best interests for us to take enforcement action immediately.
“But if we find that people are being put at risk because there is no registered manager, then we will take action.”
Stephen Burke, left, chief executive of charity Counsel & Care said the CQC had to maintain pressure on providers to maintain standards.
“This initiative by the CQC is welcome because it illustrates that the regulator is placing the management of care services for older and vulnerable people at the centre of its function by not allowing providers of homes without managers to flout the law,” he said.
“By taking this step, significant improvements in services should result, however this is just the first step.
“We would call for this tough crackdown to continue so that older people living in residential care settings do not have to live in an under-managed environment, and so that care home owners provide leadership to give confidence to the families and carers of residents.
“In any care setting, a good manager is key to providing good quality residential care.”