/ Health

Forced to settle for an inadequate or poor care home? Too many are…

elderly woman

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.


I have not yet had any experience of care homes, but having watched the news and listened to others about the problem, I can truly say that I am appalled. The duty of care that care homes purport to sign up to, is not being carried out by many of them. Human beings should be cared for with compassion and love. Carers need to be given more pay and care homes should be made to do this and not over charge all the time. It is greed that is the root of all the evil in the system. it should be stopped.

Reginald owen says:
29 November 2017

Fully agree with Elizabeth Jones. The firms employing carers are making serious money but paying buttons to the carers who are virtually slaves.

My mother was in a care home for over 6 months. We had to complain over and over again about the same things not being done. The main thing was that no-one took responsibility for administering her oxygen. she was the only one who needed it on her floor. We told them time and time again that it needed to be supervised. It was never done. Three days before she died she had been left without oxygen the whole afternoon. No-one had told the agency carer. The management blamed lack of staff. They had some excellent carers there, but the management failed to give them the necessary direction and information to do their job properly.
we complained many times that my mother’s hearing aids were not put in. The Registered manager responded saying they were going to go on a deaf awareness course! As if that were necessary to know that if someone has hearing aids then they need to be put in!
They mis-administered her medication, including overdosing her on thyroxine, which is very dangerous.
There were numerous other problems. We had 6 meetings with the management. They failed to improve and twice merely suggested that we might like to move our mother elsewhere….This would have been very confusing for her and severely detrimental to her well-being.

I was shocked that they could not manage to make improvements to even the simplest of problems.

The stress on me over the 6 months that my mother was there was overwhelming. Despite the fact that a member of the family was with my mother for several hours virtually everyday, i was constantly worried for my mother’s health and welfare.

Unfortunately the majority of care homes are run as businesses for profit. The owners do well because they employ staff on low wages rather than nursing staff (also in short supply). This is vulnerable group who, even those that can afford the more exoensive care homes can experience neglect. My mother in law had a relatively good experience, but her care home in Devon was an exception to the general rule. Have not been impressed with local homes. Low pay and long hours is not the way to ensure good care standards.

I think care home staff should be given a much higher status in line with medical staff. Doctors and nurses are highly regarded in our community, yet care home staff do difficult, unpleasant and taxing jobs that demand compassion and patience. They should be paid much higher wages. In the future we will need more and more care staff with an ageing population and it does not seem as if we are projecting wisely into the future. To attract the necessary high calibre of care home staff, we should respect and pay them properly.

My daughter was involved in finding a ‘care home’ for an old lady for whom Macmillan could do no more and who suggested that the old lady should be found a care home. All five on the suggested list were in my daughters opinion far from suitable. The buildings were passed their best and the furnishings a very low standard. Staff were far from satisfactory and the elderly ladies very often received no help in feeding themselves.

Roddy willox says:
29 November 2017

I have signed this petition even tho I live in Scotland no one should be treated like a burden, they have worked all there live and dignity cost nothing

Having had a relative in a knowsley care home that is in the inadequate stage via reports from Safeguard,CQC and Knowsley Council it is so very very sad. The decline in staff levels, lack of checks for staff, no stimulation or even lack of communication for ALL residents is just for starters .It’s disgusting that even though the owner was reported and noted by the CQC for lack of understanding and communicating makes no difference No hygiene pads in stock and some people were actually given sanatory towels!!!13 days between a shower in one case…it should not be allowed .I feel so sorry for the long term carers who have given their time and care are having to work in such a place when it is not their fault….Management has been disregarded since May and some seniors having a complete disregard for both residents and family members..My heart breaks for those who have no family…i ask WHY?? Should it be allowed…changes need to be made

Sharon Hopkins says:
29 November 2017

My mother Is in a lovely care home, Netley Court at Netley near Southampton. The staff there all know her name and they all seem to care very much. Some stand out as excellent carers and the facilities are superb. Our problem is that money will run out very quickly as mum is paying the entire costs even though she suffers with dementia and therefore needs extra specialised care. This comes to more than £4000 a month. My sister and I looked at less expensive homes but several could not offer dementia care and two, which said they did,caused us to leave in tears. They were so appalling that we immediately reported them to the CQC.
The idea that continuing NHS Care cannot be extended to dementia sufferers is a dreadful state of affairs. I dread to think what will happen when all our money runs out. The government should take at least some financial responsibility.

Just what do people expect when they vote Conservative, all they know is cut services, sell off assets and destroy this Country.
They are okay, they can afford the very best.
Protest, let them know they cannot get away with this, State run care homes are being shut at an alarming rate in my area, and we have a very large amount of elderly people here. Strangely enough most vote Conservative or Liberal Democrats who never listen to the public concerns and even when they do, they do the opposite or ignore it totally.

I live in the North East of England, where we have never known any other local government other than Labour. Sadly, over the past ten years or so, every single one of our state run care homes have been closed down and sold off for housing development by our Labour council. Every care home in my area is a private business. Before my mother died we were self funding her care to the tune of Over £700 PER WEEK! We didn’t of course like this, however somebody has to pay for it! The government doesn’t have a bottomless money pit! Unfortunately the exorbitant charges while self funding are due to the “two tier” charge system. Those who are deemed to be unable to pay the full amount hand over their pension, and the local authority then makes up the rest. As about 80% of the residents are funded in this way, the local councils are in a position to dictate how much they are WILLING to pay and the care homes then make up the difference by charging self funders (deemed to be wealthy presumably) a “penalty surcharge”(the difference being in the region of £150/200 per week!) You could say on the other hand that the huge amount of people who make no provision whatsoever for their old age are not entirely blameless. There are sadly too many people in this country who expect the state to keep them as “their right”.

Mum sadly ended up having to go into a nursing home as she had severe osteosrthritis/perosis. We live in Wiltshire and nursing homes are VERY hard to come by. Mum’s social worker found her one with a spare bed which she needed urgently due to pressure sores. I couldn’t go and view it as I couldn’t leave Mum. The social worker checked it out and it had quite a good CQC rating. We were told that it didn’t need to be permanent and that if we ALL desires, (Mum as well) we could move her closer to home. I am a fully trained care worker with NVQ 3. I told the social worker that it would depend on the standard of care AND whether or not Mum was happy there. The staff are VERY good. Mum LOVES it there. Like ALL homes, they manage to “Lose” clothes and the ONLY problem we DID find SO FAR was a senior carer/nurse had a go at my Son as I asked him to ask why some intitmate wash which usually lasted about 4 weeks, was almost gone in a matter of days. She said we were the only ones who complained. A week or so before, there was a family’s meeting where family members were urged to complain about ANY concerns by the manager. A few family’s had concerns as their family memeber had been there longer than Mum. When my Son spoke to the manager and told her what had happened, she was shocked and said that the one who had a go at him should NOT have said we were the only one’s who complain. She ALSO said “Please DO complain. If you DON’T complain, then we cannot do any thing about it” We are VERY lucky. I am NOT going to move Mum as she’s VERY happy AND the quality of care is what I would like her to have. I would have NO quelms about moving her if she was not happy. The ONLY problem there would be finding a home with the same level of care!!. The staff REALLY care about their residents. You can tell. I habe NOT told them that I am a trained carer (although NOT doing care at the moment.) On the whole, this is a VERY GOOD CARING NURSING HOME!!!! The manager hasn’t been there long BUT, improvements ARE being made and the rooms are finally going to have a lick of paint. I don’t think this home has had such good care. The residents we speak to ALL seem very happy. I DO realise MOST families are NOT as LUCKY as we’ve been. I will STILL keep my eye on things AND complain if I’m not happy. Musn’t let complacency slip in must we?

I am not in a care home (yet) . At 84 I give film shows monthly to the resident of
URRAY HOME in Muir Of Ord. This one of the finest care homes I have been in.
So clean and friendly and beautifully appointed, OUT OF TEN.
A BIG 20
Jim Henderson

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The owner who goes under a couple of names had no previous experience of nursing nor of running a care home. He was an engineer before he bought his first care home, he now owns three. He is a man who likes to boast and he said in one unguarded moment that he was only in it for the money and that he has no interest in his residents nor what they need or want.
He really shouldn’t have any say in how the care home is run/managed. I would have thought that the government would make it a priority that the people who ran care homes at least had qualifications in nursing.
The one thing that I would’ve liked to have known before I placed my Mother there was that she wouldn’t have long to live because of the lack of care and mental cruelty. By mental cruelty I mean that she was made to sit in the lounge with the other residents, where a TV blasted out (which she couldn’t see as she was almost blind), where there was no other entertainment nor mental stimulation all week. The only time she was able to move was at mealtimes and bed times.
The few staff were caring but there weren’t enough of them as they were mainly coping with the residents who had soiled themselves, etc. On several occasions when I was visiting I was the only non-resident in the room of 20 residents. The staff were elsewhere looking after some unfortunate who needed them, but I have no training in elderly care. I did flag up the problem, but I was told in no uncertain terms that it was none of my business!
During my research into the care home, I saw a document (strictly confidentially) that showed that the care home had the highest and fastest death rate in the whole of East Surrey. I passed the info onto a TV producer but the lawyers were unhappy about broadcasting it as it was subjective and anyway they had an easier target for TV.
I did complain to the CQC twice but they refused to investigate and a woman told me that she had met the owner ( a couple of years previously) who according to her, “was the most charming of gentlemen” and there was nothing wrong with the organisation and therefore nothing to investigate!!
And to cap it all the owner tried to defraud my mother’s estate after her death by overcharging a day (nearly £200) for the ‘extra’ month after we vacated the room!!! He asserted that between the “1st October and the 19th October was 20 days not 19 because there were 31 days in the month” – his words!!!
Oh just a bit more info – nothing wrong with it but he did, in a very short space of time, go from a £300K home to a £1.5M home.

My Nan went into a care home in Newham after a bad fall and a long stay in hospital. My Nan had Parkinson’s and could no longer care for herself at home. After moving into the home my Nan completely changed . She was anxious and confused a lot of the time and had constant diarrhoea. Her Parkinson Meds were not given on time. She was supposed to have a 1 to 1 carer, as she was at such a high risk of falling. Often she did not have a 1 to 1 carer and I would stay late into the night waiting for an agency one to arrive. Sometimes they would have the domestic (cleaner) with my Nan when they were short staffed. Some of the staff were lovely, but many of the good ones left as they were fed up with the Managers and Nurses in charge. My Nan steadily lost weight, she stopped eating, moving and talking. The Nurse would blame everything on my Nan’s Parkinson’s. She even accused me of causing my Nan’s diarrhoea. Telling me it only happens when I come to visit. Nice members of staff told me this was untrue and that my Nan has diarrhoea every time she opens her bowels.
I would often wash and change my nan, as some carers would not do it soon enough or do a thorough job. One time my Nan collapsed, I pulled the alarm string in the toilet. Nobody came. I shouted for help, nobody came. Eventually when my nan came round enough to hold on the handrail, I managed to get my phone and ring the care home for help. I explained that my Nan had fainted whilst on the toilet and that I needed help. The nurse told me that she would send a carer. I said don’t you think you should come, she has just fainted, I think you should check her over. She huffed and agreed to come. She was extremely rude when she arrived and acted as though I had made it up, and as though it was a huge inconvenience to do observations on my Nan. She did not call an ambulance and only called a doctor after I complained to the manager that I was no happy. When the doctor came she seemed to be onside with the nurse, that everything happening was due to my nan’s Parkinson’s. A few days later my nan collapsed again. My dad insisted an ambulance was called. My nan was suffering with servere dehydration and a urine infection. Newham General did wonders with my nan. Her bedsore almost healed whilst she was there. She put on weight and became more mobile again. She started to talk and eat by herself again. She didn’t always make sense but she was a lot less anxious. I begged my father not to let my Nan return to the care home in Newham. Instead she went to one in Tower Hamlets, that actually required improvement. It was worlds apart from the one in Newham which was rated higher. At the new home the staff were caring and attentive to the residents. My Nan was so much calmer that she no longer attemped to get up every few minutes, therefore didn’t need a 1 to 1 carer. She enjoyed her food again put on more weight. She was rarely found to be in need of a pad change. Her diarrhoea that had plagued her for over a year disappeared. Maybe it was caused by stress. The nurses knew the importance of her Parkinson meds being on time. I felt so much more relaxed about my nan living there. We got to spend almost a year with my Nan, seeing her happy and well cared for before she passed away in The Royal London hospital of a chest infection and Flu complications. She didn’t receive great care at the hospital and actually caught the Flu from the lady in the bed next to her. But that is another story, and I am just thankful in a sense that my Nan passed before she stopped recognising her family. As that would have happened eventually with the Parkinson’s and Dementia.
I never witnessed any bad treatment towards my Nan or other residents in her new home, as I had at the previous care home. Where I had seen residents put to bed at 7 even though they were protesting at not being tired. Residents calls for help ignored for hours. Terrible care to terminally ill residents, who were left groaning and crying out in pain. It made my ill, as I began to worry and care about the other residents too. I would often help other residents find their rooms or make them tea or juice.
After hearing about and seeing how the Nurses and Managers stuck together, I was too scared to report seeing a man suffering with dementia punched hard on the arm by a night shift carer. This happened as the man flung his arms up in protest of being pulled along backwards in his wheelchair as he didn’t want to be returned to bed. I was too scared that my Nan would get treated even worse or that I would get barred from visiting. As something along those lines had been mentioned when I complained about the Nurse before. I still feel awful about witnessing that and not reporting it, but I felt I didn’t have a choice at the time.

I would sue the nursing home ( the first one!) and particularly the doctor. How could he/she not recognised those two synthoms!?

The North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are closing community Hospital beds right across North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. They are calling the closures temporary because they haven’t even started a consultation exercise yet. However wards have been emptied and staff permanently redeployed. People who would normally be admitted from the Acute Trust to be rehabilitated in a community bed are being sent to nursing homes and care homes at the expense of the CCG. They financed a whole floor at a place called Stadium Court in Stoke a place that has now been put into special measures. So the NHS has been paying the private sector for a service where standards were unacceptable.

It doesn’t need a bad experience with a care home to know the principle they are run on is a recipe for disaster.

Care homes offer a service that is very secondary to the original purpose of making more money for investors than any building society account could provide. The bottom line is more important than any of the residents.

Care homes offer a product that if fit for purpose and a good profit added would cost more than the market could stand. Running costs have risen more rapidly than profits and continue to rise. The basic purpose is profit and everything else is secondary to that purpose and so when profits are threatened or fall the only available method to maintain them is to cheapen and cut services, reduce staff numbers, hire cheaper staff…

When the model for the new capitalist care home industry began it was on the back of Thatcher’s requirement for local authority services to be put out to tender and private enterprise had to undercut the cost of existing services while at least equalling the quality of those services, something quite impossible if a profit was to be made and so they were probably running at break-even or even at a loss in order to capture the market and very soon the local authority care became non-existent and the “competition” disappeared allowing the cost of care to be rapidly escalated – meaning the whole existence of the majority of care homes is based on a loss-leader or more accurately a lie!

Any teenager with half a brain would instinctively know these things…

My father suffered from dementia and went into one of our local psychiatric hospitals for respite care. I went to see him every night and the things that I saw there beggared belief. Patients were bleeding and drugged up to the nines to control them. The food was appalling, even one of the nurses said how can you give a grown man this [4 tiny pieces of fruit cocktail] whilst they were having large portions of fish and chips.

One day one of the doctors asked me if father was normally incontinent of faeces, to which I replied no, normally we have to blast.

When he came home he exposed himself to me saying it is nice and does not take long This was not my father at all, which took me back to the incontinent of faeces incident. I would put a week’s pension on the fact that he had been raped, but unfortunately I could not prove it..

When he passed away, I said I hoped he forgave us for what we put him through.

Several years later there was a major enquiry into the conduct at the hospital because of the unacceptable number of deaths. I attended that enquiry and made my views known. Apparently some of the patients had been given blackcurrant juice to drink when they were bringing up what looked like coffee grounds, the excuse for the coffee grounds being that things had stopped working down below. I was a St John Ambulance nurse for 30 years and knew that the coffee grounds were more likely dried blood from the ulcer or cancer in the stomach and the patients should have been in a surgical hospital. They must have died in agony.

Dear Janice,
Please accept my condolences , the public are generally not aware of incidents such as yours as most cases our covered up.
Care Homes and Nursing Homes are not perfect , but since the introduction of the CQC and a fairer regulatory system, there has been massive improvements The Old Geriatric wards have gone from 20 beds per room (mixed sex) to now around 6 (still sometimes mixed sex) Most of the L/A care homes have closed now that they must comply with the CQCs and many NHS trusts are struggling with their massive overheads ( making massive losses)

It is interesting that Janice’s report relates to a psychiatric hospital. I believe many abuses occurred in such places because the patients were unable to raise any alarms or report bad treatment – and would not be believed if they did.

Something that always concerns me is that bad people have an incredible ability to get into situations where they can exercise their disturbed or perverted behaviour. The mental driving force for this must be quite powerful and the authorities and people in charge of care establishments need to be much more careful in who they employ and how they supervise them.

David O'Brien says:
29 November 2017

Private nursing homes have benefitted from the rise in property prices. On the whole the capital investment has kept pretty robust for investors. Fluctuations in operating costs is reflected in the quality of care. In essence the model is inappropriate for cherished and vulnerable humans as investment is meagre or hardly at all when costs rise. The shortcomings are often lessened by dedicated staff but the quality issue tends to be impacted on those whose only recourse to protest is to cry out or suffer in silence. Everybody should be more involved to demand the best care possible. Funny how the residents go from being our grannies to our mums and dads to our brothers and sisters and maybe then to ourselves. More revenue from ring fenced care taxes and far greater accountability with community involvement. The very best should be the norm and that should be from tomorrow onwards not some future golden age goal.
(My brother is in a care home)

I totally agree, it should be the very best of care that people receive in a care home. My late Dear Father was tricked into going into a care home, not by me or my Husband, but by the nursing hospital he was in. My Father and I were told that we were going to just look at a care home and we would all be there at a specific time, when my Husband and I arrived in time my Father had already been taken there he was being quizzed by head staff and words were put into his mouth so to speak that he wanted to stay there which he didn’t! My Husband and I protested but they had already got him in the home. This is the second time this happened to my dear Father, the first time a Social worker took him to the care home but my Father refused to get out of the car, the Social worker asked me to get my father out of the car and I refused my Father was in an awful upset state crying and frightened, the Social Worker then proceeded to threaten my Father with the Police! I told my Father I would sit in the Social Workers car with him and we wouldn’t move, finally the Social worker knew he wasn’t going to get anywhere and my Husband and I took my Father back to where he was happy, that lasted six month and as I said he was tricked by a nurse to go with her and get out of the car and he ended up in the care home! Shocking treatment !!!

Brenda Hobson says:
29 November 2017

My husband was taken in to a “nursing home ” when I had to go in hospital for a few days.He had vascular dementia, when i came home i went to see him and was appalled at the conditions he was existing in.lt was so bad i brought him home, even though i was not well enough at the time.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

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which are the best homes in the north west? its very worrying

Hi Rosemary, please have a look at our care services directory. You can filter by postcode and it will allow you to see the facilities in your area. https://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care/care-services-directory I hope this helps.

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