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Coronavirus UK: Substandard care is offered in one in six homes, says watchdog

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Nearly one in six care homes gave their vulnerable residents substandard treatment last year and Covid pandemic has pushed ‘fragile’ sector closer to the edge, says CQC report

  • In one area nearly 1 in 5 care homes are ‘inadequate’ or needing to improve
  • CQC says figures mask deterioration in service that happened in some areas
  • 500+ homes with 23,000 older residents in need of improvement for five years
  • More than 1,200 once qualified as good but have fallen back into bottom levels

Nearly one in six care homes gave their frail and vulnerable residents substandard treatment last year, the regulator said today.

And in one area, the proportion of care homes dismissed as ‘inadequate’ or needing to improve was almost one in five.

A scathing report from the Care Quality Commission said that these figures masked the deterioration in service that happened in some areas. 

Care worker Jane Ward and resident Zoe McCullough on her rounds at Ashwood Court residential care home in Lowton, Warrington, in July.  The above care home is rated ‘good’

A member of staff being swabbed at a care home as a clinical trial of a Covid-19 test in London

The inspection organisation said that more than 500 homes with 23,000 older residents have been continuously rated as needing to improve for years. 

More than 1,200, with 42,000 residents, once qualified as good but have slipped back into the bottom ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ levels of care home.

One in THREE care home residents still aren’t getting monthly Covid tests promised by the Government

A third of people living in care homes in England haven’t had a coronavirus test in a month despite the Government’s pledge to run regular testing.

Out of 32,000 residents quizzed on whether they had been tested within the last 30 days, only 62 per cent said they had.

Officials said they would test all people living in care homes at least once a month to stop the virus breaking out among the people most at risk of dying of Covid-19.

At least 100,000 tests per day have been ring-fenced for the purpose and staff are also tested regularly to try and keep tabs on the virus.

A survey by the Data Analysis Bureau, however, found that one in three residents have not been tested. 

Testing in the homes appeared to hit its highest point in June, when the UK’s outbreak was tailing off, but has plummeted now that the testing system is under pressure from the thousands of members of the public being tested each day.

The researchers said care residents will ‘remain at risk’ until there is regular, reliable testing available to them.

The findings were drawn up from inspections of care homes in the financial year that ended in March – the same month that lockdown began. 

The CQC said that lockdown, during which nearly 20,000 care home residents died with Covid-19 within three months, had led to overburdened homes turning residents away, loneliness and stress because of visiting bans, and severe financial problems for owners of homes.

CQC chief Ian Trenholm called for large-scale reforms. ‘Covid has pushed social care even closer to the edge, and we need to make sure that action takes place now,’ he said. 

During the pandemic ‘the sector, already fragile, faced significant challenges around timely access to PPE, testing and staffing – and support was less readily available than it was for the NHS’, he added.

Across England, around four out of five of 23,546 adult care homes were rated as ‘good’ and one in 20 were ‘outstanding’ in the year to the end of March, the report said. 

There were 186 homes newly rated as outstanding. 

Of the rest, 15 per cent were said to require improvement and 1 per cent were ‘inadequate’.

The worst ratings were in the West Midlands, where 19 per cent were considered inadequate or to need improving.

The report said: ‘Some of the poorest services struggled to make any improvement.’

The CQC report was released as it took responsibility for choosing 500 homes that will be exclusively for patients who are discharged from hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 but are too sick or disabled to go home. 

The first are due to open at the end of the month. 

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