Despite progress many homes still not meeting minimum standards

More than half of children’s homes do not meet the national
minimum standard on child protection procedures and training, new
figures reveal.

The research, by the National Care Standards Commission, also finds
that only 36 per cent of children’s homes meet the standard on the
vetting of staff and visitors.

The findings, based on an analysis of interim data for 2003-4 and
the results of almost 17,000 inspections between April 2002 and
April 2003, also reveal problems with skills. Only four in 10
children’s homes have adequately trained and competent staff –
although a further 49 per cent almost meet this standard.

Meanwhile, in care homes for older people and for younger adults,
only 45 and 50 per cent respectively have an effective staff
training and development programme.

Only 47 per cent of older people’s homes meet the standard on staff
qualifications and skills, although full compliance on this
standard is not required until 2005. A further 38 per cent were
found to almost reach it.

Sheila Scott, chief executive of the National Care Homes
Association, criticised the report for not mentioning that some
older people’s care homes were struggling with funding. “It’s an
important part of the inspection process to understand the
challenge faced by care homes,” she said.

She added that it also failed to recognise that many staff in such
homes were currently undertaking qualifications in order to reach
the 2005 standard.

A spokesperson for social care training body Topss said it was
“feasible” that the NCSC figures represented an improvement on a
Topss estimate in 2000 that 80 per cent of social care staff were
unqualified. However, he recognised that there was “much more still
to be done”.

Despite these figures the report, How Do We Care?, concludes that
homes have generally made substantial improvements in 2003-4
towards meeting national minimum standards compared with

However, another NCSC report, also published last week, highlights
that lack of information for current and future residents of both
care homes and children’s homes remains a major issue. Information
provision is the standard on which most homes performed worst.

More in North than London

How Do We Care? reveals that there are almost twice as
many care home places for older people in the north west of England
than in London.

The commission’s analysis of its national database finds
substantial variation in the availability and quality of care homes
for older people, younger adults and children’s homes across

The number of care home places for older people in eastern
England is also low, with just 393 places per 10,000 people aged
over 64

compared to 578 per 10,000 in the North West.

Sarah Sharlotte, head of services to older people at Suffolk
Council, said that there was not a shortage of places in Suffolk
and put the low figure partly down to the council’s focus on
creating intensive domiciliary care packages to keep people in
their own homes.

She also saw it as a result of the creation of 18 “very
supported housing” schemes primarily for older people and older
people with mental health problems in Suffolk.

“This is housing and support where people have got their own
front door but with 24-hour staff as well,” she said.

The numbers of care home places for younger adults also varies
greatly. There are almost twice as many places in the South East
compared with the North East.

– NCSC reports at website 

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