Live in Care

Report raises concerns over safety and staffing levels in nursing homes

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A report in the Guardian has revealed that according to the CQC State of Care report, nursing homes are providing poorer care standards than residential care homes. The State of Care report found that less than 80% of nursing homes met CQC safety standards, in comparison to 85% of residential care homes.

The CQC cited changing demographics as one of the reasons for the drop in quality, as nursing homes and residential homes are caring for people with more complex conditions such as dementia: “the job that we’re expecting nursing homes to do is ever more complex and ever more difficult,” said Andrea Sutcliffe from the CQC. 

A further problem causing issues in nursing homes was staff shortages, with short-term agency staff frequently drafted in to fill a gap. As a result, when inspected, 20% of nursing homes did not have enough staff on duty to ensure that residents received a safe level of care.

Furthermore, staff turnover was among the highest in social care and vacancies prove hard to fill. Claire Phillips, who works in a nursing home, said: “We’ve been begged to do extra [work] because there’s not enough nurses to cover all the shifts. So there’s been periods where we all work more than our contracted hours and that can be hard … It’s a lot of pressure.

Problems with staffing levels are not new for the care sector. Frank Ursell, chief executive of the Registered Nursing Homes Association, has raised concerns over nurses being drawn by the Government from work in homes into the NHS, and general recruitment of nurses is also low. “The Department of Health is not good enough at determining how many nurses we need,” Ursell comments. This gap in staffing raises further concerns for the future, with a rising elderly population needing ever more complex care. 

Fiona Lowry, CEO of the Good Care Group, said, “Staffing levels causing a drop in care standards within residential homes must be a great worry for all families with loved ones needing care – so do consider the home-based care alternative to a nursing home. Our regional management team liaise with doctors, district nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and other health and social care professionals, to manage all health care needs and ensure that a holistic and multi-disciplinary care plan is in place. We never use agency staff so our experienced, fully employed and trained carers are able to be dedicated to your loved one’s needs, delivering the highest level of person-centred care.”

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