For those of us who have given our lives to the UK Health Services, the threat of a disintegrating service as we reach the age that we need it is not reassuring. Its going to get worse, as standards fall further, and the difference between state funding and private funding increases. The safety net is holed, a new one is needed, and it will only be possible if we have an honest debate about what the UK regional & local health services, and social care are for. If the standards fall far enough and the costs rise far enough, these will be drivers for more people being cared for, and dying, at home….. The right outcome for the wrong reason..
One in three nursing homes is inadequate, condemning tens of thousands of elderly people to substandard care, an overview of inspections has found.
Elderly care is “precarious” with homes deteriorating as qualified staff leave over poor pay and conditions, inspectors say. Families face a “Russian roulette” with one in four social care services, including home care, not safe enough, campaigners warned.
Inspectors found residents going weeks without showers, falling repeatedly, missing medicines and being woken at dawn for the convenience of staff.
After inspecting all 24,000 social care services looking after a million people in the UK, the Care Quality Commission said the system risked tipping into disaster.
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of social care, said: “It appears to be increasingly difficult for some providers to deliver the safe, high quality and compassionate care people deserve. . . With demand for social care expected to rise over the next two decades, this is more worrying than ever.”
A fifth of all social care was rated as requiring improvement or inadequate overall, rising to a quarter on safety.
Problems were particularly severe in the 4,000 nursing homes that look after 221,000 of the most vulnerable people, with 32 per cent not good enough overall, rising to 37 per cent on safety.
Almost one in ten nursing posts is vacant, leaving many homes short-staffed or reliant on agency workers.
Gary Kirwan of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Since the government cut funding to local authorities, attracting and retaining social care staff has been extremely difficult. It is poorly paid and carers work under considerable pressure . . . The few remaining registered nurses are overstretched.”
Inspectors returned to 1,830 services and found a quarter of those ranked “good” had to be downgraded. Four of the eight ranked “outstanding” fell to “requires improvement”. “That shows the fragility in the sector — good quality care is precarious,” Ms Sutcliffe said.
Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: “When significant numbers of previously effective providers are unable to sustain a quality care service you know the system’s in serious trouble.
“Older people are effectively playing Russian roulette when they need care.”
The CQC warned in the autumn that social care was approaching a tipping point and ministers have promised a £2 billion injection, but the fate of long-term reform remains unclear after they backed away from plans for a “dementia tax” during the election campaign.