More than half of the care homes inspected in the last month were found to be inadequate or to require improvement, but the care watchdog has refused to say if it is concerned by the figures.
The figures show that of 423 care homes that had a fresh rating published in the previous month, 182 (43 per cent) were said to require improvement, and another 38 (nine per cent) were found to be “inadequate”.
This is far higher than the overall proportion of failing care homes, where just 227 (1.5 per cent) out of more than 15,000 regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are said to be inadequate, with about 2,500 (16.5 per cent) needing improvement.
This means the proportion of failing homes among CQC’s most recent inspections (52 per cent) is nearly three times higher than the failure rate among all care homes (18 per cent).
The figures were obtained from the CQC website by Disability News Service after initial concerns about the latest inspection results were raised by disabled artist-activist Jess Thom (pictured, above, right), who questioned whether they could be the “tip of a horrific iceberg of dangerous care”.
She said: “I’m extremely concerned by the volume of care providers who are failing CQC inspections and by the details found within these reports.
“This is not about minor failings or excessive bureaucracy, it’s about the safety and quality of life of thousands of disabled people.
“There are systemic issues at play across the social care sector that are going largely unnoticed and unchecked.
“This matter requires urgent attention, action and analysis to understand what is happening and to prevent unsafe services becoming deadly.”
Eight years ago, CQC introduced a new method of regulation, based on “ratings and risk”, which means it is more likely to inspect those institutions where concerns have been raised by whistleblowers, relatives of residents and service-users.
It also paused routine inspections during the pandemic, and now appears mainly to inspect care homes that it considers “very high risk”.
But figures showing that more than half of those homes that are inspected are failing to achieve even a “good” rating are still likely to alarm many disabled people.
This week, the commission declined to say if it was concerned by the new figures, or to say how the latest results compared with pre-pandemic figures on inspections, although it stressed that it would expect its new regime to produce a higher proportion of failing institutions than if it carried out routine inspections of all homes.
Kate Terroni (pictured, above, left), CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said CQC had carried out more than 12,000 inspections between 23 March 2020 and 1 July 2022.
She said: “The majority of care homes are good or outstanding and this reflects the incredible efforts of carers and providers who have gone above and beyond to provide high quality care over the course of the pandemic and since lockdown measures have been relaxed.
“However, where concerns are brought to our attention we will not hesitate to act.
“We will always follow up on information of concern, and where there is risk we will inspect to ensure that people are safe and receiving high quality care.
“Where we find people are at risk we will take further regulatory action to ensure people’s safety and human rights are upheld.”
She added: “CQC made a decision to pause routine inspections during the pandemic in part to limit the number of people entering care homes in order to slow the spread of virus and keep people in care safe, however as part of our new strategy we have continued to inspect based on risk and the intelligence we hold on providers.
“As well as risk-based inspections, during the pandemic CQC have also conducted over 12,100 calls to providers as part of our emergency support framework and we have continued to monitor providers through our monitoring approach established in 2021.”
*An “inadequate” rating means the care home is “performing badly” and CQC has taken enforcement action against its provider, while “requires improvement” means the care home is “not performing as well as it should” and the watchdog has told it how to improve
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