On November 9th the CQC (Care Quality Commission) warned that 40 per cent of care homes for older people are below standard. Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector for adult social care, said that a third of social care facilities required improvement, with as many as seven per cent providing “inadequate” services.
Stephen Burke, Director of ‘Good Care Guide’, the TripAdvisor style website for the care industry, argues that the government must react to the care crisis, and suggests the following steps:
1) The government should commission an independent review to establish ‘fair care funding’ and ensure that local authorities pay at least the minimum rate required for both care home places and home care services. Alongside this review the government must fund councils properly to ensure that care providers are paid at or above the agreed minimum rate.
2) Care providers for their part must also commit to greater transparency, for example, of the wages they pay, staffing levels, profit margins and shareholder dividends. As private companies funded by public money, they should be accountable not just for the quality of care they provide but also for the way they run their businesses.
3) The investment in integration of care and health must be stepped up several gears, with one integrated budget at local level. Local authorities and CCGs(Clinical Commissioning Groups) must be required to demonstrate how effectively they are using this funding, for example to keep people out of hospital and residential care.
4) Following what is in essence the scrapping of the cap on care costs, the government should look at better ways to protect families from catastrophic care bills. One such measure would be to raise the threshold for paying for care from £23,250 to £250,000 (the average cost of a home in the UK). It is estimated that such a move would cost the same as the postponed cap and it would be a lot easier to administer.
He added: “Providing quality residential care is becoming unsustainable, especially if a care home relies on local authority income. That challenge will become even tougher next year with the much heralded increase in the national minimum wage. All the above should be seen as steps on the way to the long term sustainability of care funding. That will also require a new way of paying for care that is fair and effective.”