Labour blames government cuts as report reveals plunging care home standards
Labour has blamed government spending cuts after a new report revealed plummeting standards in the care home sector.
A new report from charity Independent Age found that 37% of local authorities in England have seen their care home quality ratings decline in the past year.
Older people, the report warned, were increasingly feeling “real fear” over the prospect of having to enter a care home due to falling standards across the country.
During 2018, 44% of care homes in Manchester were rated as either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with some facilities reportedly failing to give residents their medication or monitoring their nutrition and hydration levels.
A further 15 local authorities had between 30-40% of their care facilities rated poorly by the care watchdog in the past year.
Labour's Shadow Minister for Social Care Barbara Keeley said the sector had been left "teetering on the edge" as a result of Conservative reductions in local government funding.
“Families need reassurance that vulnerable relatives will be getting the best quality care, but all over the country care homes are failing to provide good quality care – and Tory cuts are to blame," she said.
“Social care is teetering on the edge of a cliff after nine years of Tory cuts to social care. If ministers don’t act now, things will get much worse.
"Vulnerable older people and their families deserve better than this: that is why Labour pledged at the last election to invest an additional £8 billion in social care before building a National Care Service for the long term."
The report also warned that over 2.6 million pensioners are now being forced to choose sub-par care homes due to the rising numbers of facilities given poor ratings by the CQC.
George McNamara, director of policy and influencing at Independent Age, accused the Government of “standing by and doing nothing” to improve standards of care.
“These findings are truly alarming, and show thousands of vulnerable older people live in homes that are failing to deliver even the bare minimum,” he said.
“Years of dithering by the government, and the failure to reform the social care system, is a main cause of increased pressures on the care home market and more areas with poor performers. Unless the forthcoming Green Paper is bold and ambitious, it will do little to address the crisis in care.”
“Essentially, the government continue to stand by and do nothing to address the quality of care suffered by older people, many of whom live with conditions such as dementia, and who are being robbed of their ability to enjoy life as much as possible.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Judith Jolly added: “We are now seeing the serious consequences the Tories’ cuts are having on the care older people receive. It is unacceptable that older people and families are having to choose between one poorly-performing care home and another poorly-performing care home.
"The Tories’ sustained cuts to local government funding is contributing to the fall in standards of care, as is their failure to publish the Social Care Green Paper."
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "We are committed to ensuring adult social care in England is high quality, safe and compassionate, and 83% of providers are rated as good or outstanding by the Care Quality Commission. To protect the public and hold providers to account we set up the CQC and invested it with enforcement powers to crack down on poor care or abuse.
"We provided local authorities with access to up to £3.6 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year and up to £3.9 billion for next year and will shortly outline plans for reform to ensure the sector is sustainable for the future."