When someone is no longer able to live independently in their own home it is a big deal—for the person themselves and for their close family. Moving away from familiar surroundings can be upsetting, and having made the decision, everyone involved needs to be reassured that the care home is safe and adequately staffed by well-qualified, well-supported and well-supervised carers and nurses.
Sadly, that is not always the case, and there are well-publicised examples of poor care, neglect and, in some instances, wilful abuse. While the combined findings of Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections and staff surveys indicate that poor standards of care and neglect are widespread, instances of deliberate abuse are less common. Nevertheless, a single case of abuse or neglect is one too many and completely unacceptable.
The Care Act 2014 sets out the legal framework for how local authorities and other parts of the social care system should protect adults at risk of abuse or neglect. Councils have safeguarding duties to prevent abuse and neglect and stop it quickly when it happens. The Government also maintains that it has strengthened the powers of the CQC to prosecute providers for unacceptable care, including abuse. It is a legal requirement that care providers must ensure the safety, welfare, privacy and dignity of services users at all times.
It is disgraceful that councils have faced a reduction of nearly £16 billion from central Government since 2010. Adult social care has lost £7 billion and I am concerned that these cuts are putting vulnerable elderly people at risk. Indeed, the proportion of care homes rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” increased in one in five local authorities in 2017. On top of this, a small number of councils say that budget cuts mean they are not confident they can continue to meet their safeguarding duties – putting social care users at risk of harm.
It was the need for real change and cases like Graham’s that lead me to set up the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Care. As co-chair I can assure you that we will be holding the government’s feet to the fire on this issue and I will not stop until we see the real change you and I are looking for. I will continue to press the Government to invest in our social care system to ensure that older and vulnerable people receive the high-quality care they deserve.