Thousands of older people risk being left without enough food or drink, or choking at overstretched and unsafe care homes, The Independent has found. In the past three years 434 care homes have been found falling short of the standards. In 2017 alone 136 care homes were given regulatory sanctions requiring them to make urgent changes to ensure resident’s safety.
In the past three years, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have found hundreds of older people’s care homes are failing on legally required standards for nutrition and hydration. CQC inspectors have identified serious cases where residents have gone for almost a week with the equivalent of two cups of water and “minimal food”. While others have been put at risk of choking after being served food they can’t chew.
A survey last month suggested “abuse” of older people, such as not giving enough time to complete meals, occurs in 99 per cent of care homes, driven largely by shortages of staff. A Malnutrition Taskforce estimates that 37 per cent of people admitted to care homes because they’re malnourished and funding pressures make that worse.
“People aren’t paying enough, so care homes cut things. The quality of meals goes down because food is always first to be cut. They cut the staff, so there’s a lot of time with skeleton staff around where you can’t feed or drink or toilet people. That is a direct result of the very small amount of money being paid by county councils.”