The impact of the staffing crisis on dementia care homes

Recent reports by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have rated one in five care homes specialising in the care of dementia patients either “inadequate” or “requires improvement”. Some of these homes have been deemed to present such a risk to patients that they have been placed in “special measures”.

The number of care homes specialising in dementia which were rated “inadequate” by the CQC rose from 143 in October 2021 to 153 by the end of the year, with those rated as “requires improvement” increasing from 1,456 to 1,483.

The CQC defines “inadequate” as “the service is performing badly and we’ve taken action against the person or organisation that runs it” and “requires improvement” as “the service is not performing as well as it should and we have told the service how it must improve.” The CQC states that where a home is placed in “special measures”, they will “closely supervise the quality of care while working with other organisations to help them improve within set timescales.”

The Alzheimer’s Society has called for prioritisation of staff recruitment and dementia training in the wake of these revelations. Age UK also put the issue down to the current staffing crisis, pointing out that it is not possible to provide the intensive support required for dementia patients if there are insufficient staff available.

In its annual ‘State of Care’ assessment of health and social care in England for 2020/21, the CQC stated that “staff are exhausted and the workforce is depleted”, and “recruitment and staff retention continue to be severe problems.” They concluded that “there must be a sharp focus on developing a clearly defined career pathway and training.” It would appear from the reported data that the problems highlighted in the CQC’s ‘State of Care’ report are having a significant impact upon the care of dementia patients.

It remains to be seen whether the Government’s recruitment proposals, which we reported on in our blog of 12 January 2022, will result in any improvement for those patients affected by the issues facing homes specialising in dementia care.

How the impact of this may manifest into safeguarding and/or CQC investigations leading to claims is a wait and see.

Emma Draper, Associate, BLM

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