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North West care homes 'worst performing in the country'

Figures from Independent Age found one in three care homes in the region are performing poorly Photo: Press Association

Full report from Granada Reports correspondent Amy Welch

Care homes standards in the North West are worse than anywhere else in the country, according to a new report.

Figures from Independent Age found one in three care homes in the region are performing poorly compared with 20.3% in London.

In Stockport, almost two-thirds are rated as inadequate or requiring improvement and 54% in Tameside were poor performers, according to findings.

The analysis, conducted by old people's charity Independent Age and based on Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections, found that five local authorities have more than half of care homes rated "inadequate" or "requires improvement".

The charity said the variation in quality was caused by low levels of funding by local authorities, difficulties recruiting staff, and low pay, as well as a lack of a support mechanism for improving struggling care homes.

Simon Bottery, director of policy at Independent Age, said:

"No one should be forced to live in an unsatisfactory care home but our analysis shows this is the grim reality in some parts of the country.

"The market is simply not providing a decent choice for older people and their families but there is little indication that local authorities or the Government are giving the problem the attention it deserves.

"Money is likely to be one cause but not the only one.

"The Government has an opportunity to address this in its upcoming Green Paper on social care but, in the meantime, councils must demonstrate that they understand the reasons for care home failures and are working to resolve them."

Margaret Willcox, president elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: "High quality care is essential to providing good adult social care to professional standards expected by elderly and disabled people and their families, who both need and deserve it. "Most health and adult social care services in England are providing people with safe, high quality and compassionate care, as recognised in last year's annual CQC report, with 71% of adult social care services inspected rated as "good".

"However, the CQC raised concerns that the sustainability of the adult social care market is approaching a tipping point.

"Despite councils working hard with providers and the sector to maintain and improve the quality of care provided, the chronic and historic underfunding of social care has severely impacted on their ability to do so.

"Reductions in funding, increased demand by people living longer and with more complex needs, and the cost of the National Living Wage, while welcome, are putting significant pressures on councils and providers who are finding it hard to recruit and retain staff, especially in home care in those areas of high employment.

She added:

"The £2 billion for adult social care for the next three years will help plug the funding gap for adult social but this is only a short-term measure.

"Adult social care needs to be a national priority.

"The forthcoming social care Green Paper provides a critical opportunity to future-proof adult social care and improve quality, and we look forward to working with the sector to help the Government achieve this vital goal for the benefit of society as a whole."

Care home quality and funding is an issue we've looked at extensively on Granada Reports.

Our viewers contacted us in their hundreds last year to raise some of the issues affecting their loved ones.

The minister for care is David Mowat who also happens to be the MP for Warrington South. Our correspondent Amy Welch asked him if he believed standards in care homes are good enough..