Fears of care home standards

MARK NICHOLLS New figures have shown that some of Norfolk's care homes continue to offer a poor level of service to residents.

MARK NICHOLLS

New figures have shown that some of Norfolk's care homes continue to offer a poor level of service to residents.

Assessments carried out by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) revealed that out of the 389 care homes in Norfolk as of December 2006, 28 received the lowest level of grading, which indicated they were "poor".

But, this is an improvement on the December 2005 figures, which showed that out of 421 care homes at that time, 45 received the lowest grade.

And steps are being put in place to drive up standards in the county.

The figures were obtained from the commission by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb under Freedom of Information legislation.

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He said: "I am concerned about the number of homes that are not providing an adequate service to the people of Norfolk.

"A lot of people have anxieties about the way elderly people are treated in our county, and the fact that there are 28 homes - and I do not know how many places that means in each - where there are an awful lot of residents not being looked after in adequate conditions, is something we ought to be concerned about.

"But it is also important that we fully acknowledge that a significant number of homes are good."

Care homes were assessed as follows: level 1 is poor, 2 adequate, 3 good and 4 excellent.

At December 2006, of the 389 care homes in Norfolk, 28 were poor, 103 adequate, 203 good and 50 were excellent (and five have yet to be assessed). Of those, 67 were nursing homes and 322 were homes for personal care.

In 2005, when there was a red, amber and green rating system, of the 421 homes - of which 65 were nursing homes and 356 were homes for personal care - 45 were classified as red, 139 as amber and 237 as green.

The report does not differentiate between those that are privately owned and those that are county council-owned.

The council's director of adult social services Harold Bodmer said: "We are working closely with CSCI in a positive way to help drive up standards in the homes that are currently at level 1.

"We have agreed joint action plans to help the homes improve their services and later this month we are also planning a joint workshop between

our staff and CSCI to look at all the things we can do to help improve standards."

The CSCI document also indicated that enforcement action had been taken against owners and managers of some homes in Norfolk. Issues included failure to ensure adequate staff were on duty, inadequate hygiene arrangements, poor records maintenance and medication issues.