There are few Council Care homes to look after elderly people these days and on the Isle of Wight most of it is now in the private Sector, it is seen now as a multi-million pound industry. According to data provided by the Care and Quality Commission (CQC), the Isle of Wight is officially at the very bottom of the league of all 47 counties. At the top of the table is Herefordshire with 97.1% services rated as good with 2.9% rated as requiring improvement. Cornwall with 92.4% services rated as good with 7.6% rated as requiring improvement and the Isle of Wight at the very bottom with 79% services rated as good with 21% rated as requiring improvement.
Care homes on the island have been hit with scandal like they have done throughout the country with the private sector being most criticised for cutting corners in trying to maintain profitability. Costs have been highlighted as a problem and staffing levels as well as training has been kept to a minimum. Most labour is kept on rock bottom pay levels and is not unionised.
Last year the authority spent the best part of £30m on providing residential and nursing home care out of an overstretched Council budget.
Millions are spent privately by families and by relatives “topping up” the difference between what the council will pay and what a place actually costs each week.
Here the council will pay between £435 and £535 a week, depending on how much care residents require for each of the isle of Wight’s 1,280 residents.
The average charge made by island Care Homes is £525.
In the nursing home sector, where there are 546 beds, the council will pay £713 a week – when the average cost is £777.
The Isle of Wight Council now only has the responsibility for about half the placements. The Council has worked in tandem with the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and has forced closure upon Holmdale House in Havenstreet during the summer. It did so because the standards of safeguarding were said to be serious.
The relatively recent NHS watchdog, set up in place of the public scrutiny Heath Forum and ‘Link’, released its concerns and prioritised improvement in care. Healthwatch has ties with advocacy firms that concentrate on litigation and are foremost looking at the statutory requirement of the Unitary Authority to provide Heath and Social Care services. They are looking closely at details and have called upon family members and staff and also members of the public to report on residential care as to whether it is good or bad. They say that they will use informed information to support providers and commissioners.
Healthwatch has recognised that the island was under financial pressure, as other parts of the country are too, but care on the island, according to them, is “at a crossroads”. They have emphasised that there are a growing number of providers, providing unsafe and inadequate care.
Now the Residential Care Homes’ Association and the Registered Nursing Homes Association on the island have taken the concern on board. Demanding more vigour from the CQC.
The pressure on the authority has led to a certain amount of panic. Meetings called by the CQC involving providers and local authority has led the Council to respond. Cllr Steve Stubbings, who is deputy leader of the Council and part of the Independent Administration, has the portfolio for Adult Social Care, has responded by saying to the recent council scrutiny committee dealing with adult social care; “I can absolutely, categorically, guarantee we will work to address this issue. We will not be in this position in six months time”.