In recent weeks, we’ve heard from guest authors Fred and PamS who’ve arranged care and hundreds of people who’ve shared their care home experiences. This insight combined with our latest research has revealed a sorry picture of the care system with the majority struggling to find good care.
We recently looked at the problems people have faced when arranging care. Our research found that almost half of those we asked told us they couldn’t find a bed in at least one of the local care homes they looked at.
While finding a care home may be the first hurdle you come up against, it would seem that finding a good care home can often be the second.
Finding a care home
Our latest survey found that a lack of good local places means many people are staying in, or moving loved ones into, care homes they simply aren’t satisfied with.
We found that almost one in five people settled for a care home they had reservations about. Sharing her struggles of finding a care home Hilary told her troubling experience here on Which? Conversation:
‘My sister and I spent over a week visiting different care homes and were very disappointed with most we saw (e.g. smell of urine permeating the home, signs of neglect). Finally found a place at a care home that seemed the ‘best of the bunch’. It was very expensive.
‘We were told that she would have her meals with other residents in a ‘social setting’, and have opportunities to chat and socialise and join in activities. The first week my mum had her meals with other residents in the dining room-cum-lounge. After that, she had to remain in her room for meals. I asked why and was told she was eating too slowly and this wasn’t convenient for staff and other residents. By the end of the second week, she was hardly eating at all.
‘I visited her every day, and we managed to take her out for a visit twice. By the end of the fourth week, she was very frail and had lost interest in life and basically lost the will to live. She died a few days later.’
Our research also found that a similar number of people are opting for a home away from their friends and family. Ann shared her concerns about arranging her own care:
‘I live in fear that I will need to be placed in a failing Care home. I have been diagnosed with MND which is a progressive disease and I know that I will eventually become totally dependent on carers. I have tried to be responsible and have looked for a local care home so I can stay near to my family. Their charges are exorbitant. I have been quoted more than £6k a month!’
For those who did find care eventually, we also found that a quarter of them were left feeling guilty or annoyed that they couldn’t find a more suitable care home.
Making the decision to move a loved one into a care home is difficult enough, so it’s unacceptable that so many are left feeling concerned about the decisions they’ve made, simply because there is no choice available to them. Our Which? Elderly Care website can you find local care homes and services and also offer advice and guidance for those arranging care.
Fix the care system
As some of you may know, we recently launched our Care Needs Care Now campaign is calling for the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) inquiry into the care home market to go beyond the immediate issues around quality, fees and complaints.
The Competition and Markets Authority must look at the huge local disparities in care home provision, which is fast reaching crisis point across the country.
The response we’ve had to our campaign has been overwhelming, with over 75,000 people backing our petition. We need the regulator to listen to these stories and recognise that the national picture masks huge differences in the number of care home places available at a local level.
We want the CMA’s care inquiry to make strong recommendations that the government addresses this systemic issue of inadequate provision in its upcoming Green Paper.
Do you think enough is being done to deliver a good care system? If you’ve arranged care before, is there anything you would have done differently? How do you think care could be improved?