The National Care Association welcomes the Care Quality Commission’s State of Care report which acknowledges that the care sector is facing unprecedented financial constraints at a time when there is a rising need for care and support. The report shows that 71% of the adult social care services inspected were rated ‘good’.
The State of Care report highlights the fact that chronic underfunding is damaging the sector, which is at a ‘tipping point’, with the current funding settlement disregarding demographic change, market pressures, and the impact on people receiving care.
The Care Quality Commission is worried about the pace of care home closures, with their numbers falling by nearly 1,500 to 16,600 over the past six years and increasing numbers of providers turning their back on council contracts. Indeed, a recent report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services suggested that two-thirds of local authorities had seen contracts handed back or providers leave the market – a reflection of how dysfunctional the care market has become.
National Care Association Executive Chairman Nadra Ahmed OBE comments ‘Whilst this report contains a lot of positives for a majority of care home operators who continue to deliver very high standards of care, provider exit and large-scale contract hand-backs are demonstrating the fragility of this market, prompting the question: At what point do replacement providers only make the returns viable by compromising on the quality of care?
‘The unsustainable market position will compromise the safety of some of the most vulnerable people in society who rely on social care services. We have warned of the inevitability of a two tier system emerging at a faster pace if the issues are not addressed and it is refreshing to see that the regulator has underlined our concerns through their report.
‘Undoubtedly the current situation creates additional pressure on the NHS, increasing delayed discharge figures, which cannot improve whilst there is no clear pathway to an integrated approach which leaves social care remaining starved of financial resources.’
Last week’s media coverage has shown the fragility of the market and how providers are being put in a perilous position by a lack of political will to meet the funding needs of social care. The CQC is right to use its position to highlight what the government must do to reverse a trend of gradual but definite erosion of this sector, a lifeline for many vulnerable people.