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Care homes must be more transparent as families ‘flying blind’

Families frequently lack the right information when finding residential care for an elderly relative as care homes do not collect enough information about their standards, the charity Independent Age has warned.

A new report by the charity has found that despite the varying quality of residential care, the adult social care sector lacks the transparency and quality controls that exist in the NHS, preventing families from making the right choices.

The charity identified that care homes have too wide an interpretation of quality, a lack of consistent and standardised data collection, and a lack of transparency and easily available information about the service they provide.

“Care homes need to start collecting harder and more reliable statistics to help identify when things are going wrong,” said Simon Bottery, head director of policy and external relations at Independent Age.

“Families are currently flying blind with such limited information available at their disposal.”

The charity found that over two in five (41%) nursing homes are rated by the CQC as inadequate or requiring improvement, but roughly the same amount of homes could not provide ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory’ answers to questions about their homes when asked.

The sector does not even have a sector-wide staff survey, meaning that it misses out on a potentially helpful opportunity to ask staff whether they would recommend their place of work or whether they have witnessed abuse or neglect.

A poll undertaken by the charity also revealed that over half (52%) of British adults believe that abuse and neglect in care homes is common, basing their views either from media reports or their personal experiences as staff or service users.

Ray James, immediate past president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care (ADASS), said that while people should recognise the positive difference frontline care staff make to over a million older and disabled people – with over 90% of people satisfied with their care – the sector should do more to address rare cases of abuse.

“One person experiencing neglect is one too many and we all share a responsibility to ensure that care is dignified, respectful and safe. Every incident, every investigation and every report provides really important opportunities to learn, to better protect, to hold people to account and to strive to reduce the chance of further failings,” James said.

“We must continue to root out abuse and tackle its causes but if we are to continue to be able to recruit the dedicated, compassionate, caring workforce we need in years to come, society and the media must also find ways of acknowledging all that is good, whilst rightly exposing the unacceptable.”

Independent Age recommended that the Competition and Markets Authority conduct a full market review of the care home sector. It also said the CQC should work with the DH to agree a shared view of safety and quality in care homes, while also encouraging homes to make far more information available.

(Image: c. CQC)

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Derek Barron   07/12/2016 at 15:18

A missed opportunity and an unfortunate generic characterisation, not to mention the comparison with the NHS. After 32yrs working in the NHS I recently moved into the care sector - before doing so I knew far more about the area I was going to work in than I know about my local NHS. The level of scrutiny is at least as robust as facing the NHS, if not more so - additionally the scrutiny we do face takes a whole system approach rather than the rather piecemeal approach in the NHS. Of course it could simply be that Independent Age simply looked at the English system and then characterised it as applying UK wide, which would again be wrong. Disappointing.

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