Number of care homes penalised hits five year low
The number of care homes penalised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for failing to provide adequate care has fallen to a five year low of 1,854 in 2018/19*, down from 3,323 in 2014/15.
However, the fall is not entirely due to improving standards of care homes. In part it may be driven by the CQC not wanting to impose too many penalties on a sector that is already struggling financially. Care home giant Four Seasons, which went into administration on April 30, is just the latest in a long line of care home insolvencies.
It is also important to note that the CQC’s budget has been cut by £26m to £223 million in 2018/19, down from £249 million in 2015/16. The number of care homes inspected, fell to a five year low of 7,620 in 2018/19 down from 9,610 2014/15.
Joe Soul, Principal in our healthcare team says that whilst the CQC is conscious that imposing too high a level of fines or closing an underperforming care home could cause major problems for a care home’s residents if they have to be rehoused. The CQC must also be mindful of the capacity in the sector for a significant group closing either as a result of insolvency or CQC pressures.
Parts of the care home sector remain in a fragile financial state as local authorities have cut their payments to care homes. Increasing labour costs through the rising minimum wage and Brexit related staff shortages have also hit care homes.
Joe Soul, also comments: “The data would suggest that the CQC is struggling to maintain high standards whilst not overregulating and adding further financial strain on capacity in the sector.Such is the level of financial stress in the sector the CQC is trying to be pragmatic in terms of what improvement notices it issues.
Budgetary constraints may also impact on the thoroughness of the inspections they need to undertake and the work needed to complete a regulatory action against a care home. However, the quality of the care, safety and treatment of the residents within care homes needs to remain the CQC’s highest priority.
Care homes should not see the reduction in regulatory action against care homes as a sign to relax, they must continue to invest to ensure they meet the standards set by the CQC. The CQC will be determined not to be seen as a soft touch.”
Number of care homes in which actions following inspections were undertaken falls to lowest point in 5 years.
*Year end 31 March 2019
For more information on this topic, please contact Joe Soul, or you can give us a call on 0345 070 6000.