Councils’ ‘excellent’ care ratings questioned

Councils with care services rated as ‘excellent’ still fail to provide care to vulnerable residents who are incapable of getting out of bed, washing, or using the toilet by themselves, a charity has claimed.

Age Concern and Help the Aged said fresh analysis showed almost two-thirds of councils with the three-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) did not offer any care at all to older people who could not carry out basic daily tasks.

While CSCI ceased to be the government’s social care watchdog at the end of March, its star ratings are the most up-to-date rankings of councils standing.

Age Concern and Help the Aged, which have merged, are calling for the government to address the issue of tightening eligibility criteria for social care, that sees the vast majority of councils offering assistance to only those with substantial or critical needs.

The charity said that 35 out of England’s three-star councils fitted into that category.

Director Michelle Mitchell said it was estimated that real reforms that would preserve people’s dignity could be delivered with an additional £1-2bn in annual funding and that the issue should be dealt with in the Department of Health’s impending Green Paper.

“The reality is that even the best local councils are leaving many older people to struggle without the care they need, slowly stripping away their dignity and independence,” she said.

“The call for action from older campaigners and their families is loud, clear and unified.

“It’s time for action, not endless consultation and discussion. Politicians cannot duck the care crisis any longer – any political party that fails to spell out how they would reform the care system is betraying the current and future generations of older people”

David Rogers (Lib Dem), who chairs the Local Government Association’s wellbeing board said rationing of resources was clearly an issue but disputed the suggestion that vulnerable residents were being ignored.

 “There is no question of older people who are unable to get out of bed or get to the toilet being deliberately neglected by councils,” he said.

“People who work in social care would like to be able to help and support every single individual in some way so they can lead a happy and healthy life into old age, but in three quarters of cases the financial situation is not allowing councils to offer much more than the minimum.”

Cllr Rogers said the ambition for reforming the nation’s social care system had to be that everyone was offered a basic level of care and support.