Two-thirds (66%) of MPs in England, including just over half (53%) of Conservative MPs in England and four in five (82%) Labour MPs in England, agree that their older constituents do not have enough high-quality care homes to choose from. In addition to this, more than half (51%) of Conservative MPs in England and four in five (83%) Labour MPs in England were concerned that, without action, the quality of the care homes market in their constituency will deteriorate over the next year. That’s according to a new poll of MPs of all parties representing constituencies in England commissioned by Independent Age, the older people’s charity.
Following the expanded social care responsibilities given to Jeremy Hunt in the Cabinet reshuffle last week, the new poll by ComRes found a majority of MPs in England from both major parties were concerned about their older constituents and the local care homes market. This poll is released ahead of the publication of the Government’s social care Green Paper expected in the Summer.
According to the survey, more than four in five (82%) Conservative and around nine in 10 (92%) Labour MPs in England agree that older people who are eligible for residential care should be given a choice of at least one care home rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Moreover, more than one-third (37%) of Conservative MPs in England and more than two-thirds (68%) of Labour MPs in England do not believe that the care homes market in their constituency is functioning well for older people.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said:
“MPs in England are strikingly pessimistic about the quality of care homes in their constituencies. Older people who need residential or nursing care need to be given a meaningful choice when it comes to their care, so it is worrying that so many MPs expect the quality of care homes in their area to get worse next year if nothing is done. This is a stark reminder of the challenge facing Jeremy Hunt in his new expanded role as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The quality and cost of all types of care must be addressed in the forthcoming social care Green Paper for both the long and short term. With so many MPs seemingly having lost faith in their local care homes market, it’s time to get on with finding a solution.”
A recent Freedom of Information request sent to local authorities by Independent Age found that councils are not routinely taking CQC inspections into account when arranging residents’ care home placements. Many of those that do, do not keep a record of how many people they place in ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ rated care homes. Although local authorities are not legally required to take CQC ratings into account, the Independent Age survey shows that two-thirds (66%) of MPs in England agree that older people who are eligible for residential care need legal protection preventing them being offered only care homes rated by the CQC as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.
Independent Age is calling for the social care Green Paper to set out clear solutions for a fairer, more transparent and sustainable care system that will instil confidence in MPs across all parties, as well as older people and their families, to show that the government has fully comprehended and taken on board all the issues surrounding social care.