Thank you for contacting me about the quality of elderly care.
I agree that we must eliminate all cases of abuse in care homes and I am horrified by stories of cruelty towards and mistreatment of vulnerable and older people, especially when the perpetrators are those charged with caring for them. I am clear that the Government should do everything it can to ensure incidents like these cannot happen.
I welcome the Government’s multi-pronged approach to tackling this issue, working with local government, the police, and the private and voluntary sectors. These groups work together to ensure that the right legislative powers are in place to deter and tackle criminals who target the elderly, to help prevent loneliness and social isolation, and to provide the right support and access to the justice system when someone suffers abuse. In October 2018, the Government launched a review of hate crime legislation as part of their refreshed hate crime action plan; under current hate crime legislation, targeting an elderly person because they are vulnerable should result in a more severe sentence.
The independent Care Quality Commission (CQC) has provided many valuable insights into the workings of the social care system and much information about care facilities that people have found helpful, however, there have been a number of cases in which serious problems have emerged which appear not to have been spotted by inspectors.
Of course, when the CQC gets it wrong, lessons must be learned and the CQC's performance thoroughly reviewed as it was last year, for example, by the independent and respected research body, the King's Fund. Moreover, the work of the CQC and of the care sector in general is regularly scrutinised by Parliament. We must also applaud and support the whistleblowers within the care sector, members of the public and journalists who bring cases of abuse to wider attention. Their courage and public-spiritedness are indispensable in maintaining high standards in the care sector. Local authorities also play an important role.
More generally, improving the quality of elderly care in the UK is one of our highest priorities. Around 1.4 million people work in our country’s social care sector, and I would like to pay tribute to their dedication in helping some of the most vulnerable in our society to live out their years with dignity.
The CQC has reported that, despite financial pressure, four out of five adult social care services in England were rated good or outstanding. The CQC report has, however, highlighted areas for concern, such as the regional disparity in quality of care, and the rate of improvement of care services. I will continue to monitor the progress the Government is making in building on its recent improvements to social care.
I am delighted that near-term measures have been introduced to support councils to manage adult social care. In total, the Government has given councils access to up to £10.29 billion more dedicated funding for social care over the three years up to 2019-20. Money alone will not fix the problem and Ministers are clear that far-reaching reform is needed to encourage high standards across the whole country.
Furthermore, the Department of Health and Social Care is implementing Quality Matters, a vital scheme committed to improving the care sector for patients, families, and carers alike. This scheme makes it clear care home providers must be transparent and work closely with the public, to develop care homes which are not only of the highest quality possible, but adapted to the needs of their locality.
I would very much welcome the opportunity to discuss further with you the issues you raise at one of my 'Meet Your MP' events, details from my office or this website. Alternatively, you can of course send further correspondence to my office.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP