LONDON, England / The Telegraph / Elder Health / September 29, 2010
More than 1,500 elderly and disabled people have been forced to move over the past year after action by the health watchdog led to the closure of their care homes.
Some care homes were found to be dirty, while nurses were untrained or working illegally in others.
The CQC took legal action to close six homes over the past year, and a further 28 homes and eight agencies shut down after “enforcement action” such as public warnings were issued.
This led to alternative beds being found for 700 elderly or disabled adults.
In addition, 51 care services closed down voluntarily after the watchdog rated them “poor”, leaving 900 vulnerable people needing a new home.
From Friday, the CQC gains even greater powers and will be able to issue on-the-spot fines and warning notices to care providers who are failing to meet “essential standards of quality and safety”.
Cynthia Bower, its chief executive, said: "Standards across the sector are improving year-on-year, so people are getting better care than in the past.
"In order to keep this trend going, we need to address the worst services that just cannot or will not improve to an acceptable level.
"This is where we've been focusing our attention over the past year as we get the sector ready for a new registration system that will be even tougher when care is not up to scratch.”
She admitted that the upheaval of closing a care home can harm elderly people.
"Closing a care home is not a decision taken lightly. These are places where people live. We have to weigh up the potential impact on residents.
"In some cases, moving frail and elderly people may actually cause more harm than good.
"Our first step is to try to get the home to improve. This is always preferable to closure because it means residents get better care without having to go through the trauma of moving.
"But in some cases, the necessary improvements fail to materialise. It becomes clear that the only way to properly protect residents is to close the home and move them to others where care is of a better standard."
The CQC added that only a tiny fraction of the 24,000 services it regulates were subject to enforcement action.
Among the concerns that led to closures were verbal and psychological abuse of residents; medicines not being managed safely, leaving people at risk of not receiving vital medication; lack of medical and nursing care; staff not legally able to work in the country; poor sanitary conditions; and lack of staff training.