An exclusive investigation by East Anglia Bylines Spotlight team, has found over 300 care homes across the East of England are below standard. A further 48 are still waiting for their first inspection.
32 care homes get lowest rating
32 care homes have received the lowest rating of ‘inadequate’, meaning hundreds of vulnerable people are receiving a poor standard of care. Taken together these figures represent one in five care homes in the region.
Health and adult social care in England is independently regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Their job is to inspect care facilities including care homes and companies registered to provide home care. Following each inspection, they publish a report about the service and rate the performance on a four-point scale: ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or inadequate’.
Norfolk is worst performer
The worst performing local authority is Norfolk, which has one of the UK’s oldest populations. A concerning one third of all residential care homes have either failed to meet required standards of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, or have yet to receive a CQC rating. The county also has England’s worst-performing mental health trust according to the CQC. The best performing county for adult social care is Cambridgeshire where only one in ten fall into these categories. The regional average is just over 22%.
We conducted a similar investigation into companies registered to provide carers in the home. Close to one in three are either still awaiting an inspection by the CQC, or have failed to a meet the ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ classification.
Ours is one of several recent investigations into the adult social care sector.
Standards slipped since pre-pandemic
The Guardian found that where care-homes had slipped from ‘good’ before the pandemic to ‘inadequate this summer, three quarters were suffering staff shortages. There are currently over 165,000 staff vacancies in the adult social care sector.
A further 10% whilst adequately staffed, had not recruited in a safe way, possibly not obtaining references, DBS checks, or carrying out training. The article highlighted three care homes, all in East Anglia, where there were concerns over staffing and care.
Over 1m on waiting list across UK
An investigation by the BBC in May found over half a million people were waiting for social care in England. This number has doubled since last year indicating how critical the situation is becoming.
Last month, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) reported that an average of six hundred people are added to the waiting list every day. In addition to chronic staffing shortages, it cites funding as a primary issue.
“Contrary to claims,” says ADASS chief executive Cathie Williams, “social care is not being fixed and we need decisive action and funding now to get us through the months ahead and to start to build the foundations of the reformed system that we all want to see.”
Care sector needs more funding
This assessment was echoed by the parliamentary Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee which highlighted that the “message rang clear throughout our inquiry: the adult social care sector does not have enough funding either in the here and now, or in the longer-term”. The report notes: “we received concerns that Brexit and the points based immigration system would exacerbate staff shortages, not just directly but also in indirect ways” before citing examples of competition for staff within the hotel sector.
Government recruiting in India, Pakistan
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson was quoted in the Evening Standard saying: “Our new international recruitment taskforce is considering innovative ways to boost staffing numbers within health and adult social care.” The aim is to seek workers from Commonwealth Countries such as India and Pakistan rather than Europe, as previously.
As our population ages, the need for these services will only increase. In a sector that has endured austerity, chronic understaffing as a result of Brexit, and the Covid-19 pandemic, it now faces the energy crisis as well. If the new Truss government doesn’t act quickly, the social care industry faces collapse.
East Anglia Bylines will be reporting more of our findings from our investigation in the coming weeks. The research was carried out by our Spotlight investigative team.