Our latest research reveals that some areas have more than half of care home beds in homes rated as ‘poor’ or ‘inadequate’. As Ann’s story shows, action is needed to confront the creaking care system now…
Ann, a supporter of our Care Needs Care Now campaign, told us about her challenging experience with her mother’s care home.
Ann’s mother was in a care home in Wiltshire for six years before she died. She was bedridden and had dementia. She needed help with eating and drinking and couldn’t ring the bell to call staff because of her condition.
Care homes don’t always care
What Ann’s mother really needed was a care home that cared. But Ann had numerous problems and concerns about her mother’s care – here she tells us about just a few of them:
‘When we had to choose a home for Mum, we visited three homes. One was like a dark warren and the room wasn’t very nice. We wouldn’t have wanted her to go there, or to the other one. Both stank to high heaven of urine. The one we chose was brighter with less of a smell, but being at the end of a corridor, she was reliant on staff who never came.
‘I worked as an auxiliary care assistant in the local hospital at the time. Luckily, my employer let me take long lunch breaks to visit Mum every lunchtime to check she was given her lunch. My sisters and I felt the need to visit daily because on two separate occasions, the staff simply forgot to give her any lunch.
‘Mum needed help with eating and drinking. She couldn’t ring the call bell because of her condition; she was reliant on the staff to ensure her needs were met without her having to ask. Her room was at the end of the corridor, so there never seemed to be any passing staff.
‘One November, when it gets dark at around 4pm, Mum was left without a working light in her room over a whole weekend, because the bulb had gone and the maintenance person was off! Staff didn’t even bring in a bedside light for her – they used the light from the en suite with the door open to change and clean her.
‘Soon after Mum moved in we noticed on several occasions an odd tablet on bedside table or the floor. Staff didn’t seem too concerned when asked about it, but they didn’t recognise the tablet either. Eventually one of the care assistants discovered that Mum had sucked the coating off the tablet and then spat it out.
‘Over the years, my family was concerned about the state of her room. There were some worrying cracks in the walls, yet nothing was done until we pointed out to one of the senior nurses that we could feel a draught through the crack. The nurse then checked to feel the draught herself – only then was the problem tackled.
‘My family felt trapped and tied to this nursing home because it was allegedly one of the best in town. We didn’t want to move Mum far away because then we wouldn’t have been able to visit so often or keep an eye on things.
‘Since Mum died, it makes me fear for my own future should I ever need a nursing home.’
Care Needs Care Now
Ann’s experience with her mother’s care will be a familiar story to many care arrangers across the country. Our latest research has found that nearly a third of local authority areas in England have one in three beds or more in poor care homes – find out what the situation looks like in your area here.
Thankfully, there are some areas where at least nine in ten care home beds are in homes rated as good or outstanding. Yet, as the demand for beds is set to outstrip the provision for care home spaces, it’s clear that more needs to be done to confront the creaking care system now.
We want the Competition and Market Authority’s care home market study to make strong recommendations to the Government to address both the current crisis and future stability of the provision of care in its upcoming Green Paper.
What’s your experience of care homes?
Does Ann’s story ring true with you? Have you found a relative’s care to be much lower in quality than you would expect – or have you been pleased with care homes you’ve encountered?
Tell us your experience below to help us build up an accurate picture of care home quality – and don’t forget to sign our campaign calling on the CMA to confront the creaking care system.