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Choosing adult social care is one of life’s most stressful experiences

Survey shows how choosing adult social care services compares with making choices for other key life events

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Choosing adult social care services for yourself or a loved one is one of life’s most stressful experiences, according to a survey of 1,000 people carried out for the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Seven in ten (70%) adults who were responsible for choosing care in a care home or at home – either for themselves or a loved one – over the last three years found it more stressful than choosing their child’s nursery or school, or a venue for their wedding or civil partnership.

The survey found that 52% of people would put choosing a care home and 31% choosing care at home in their top three most stressful life decisions.

People’s experiences varied across the country, with the highest proportion of people in the North East (60%), Yorkshire and Humber (56%) and the North West and East Midlands (both 54%) saying that choosing a care home was their most stressful life decision. These regions are among those where CQC has rated the highest proportion of adult social care services as ‘Requires Improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’.

Two of the regions where the lowest proportion of people said that choosing a care home was their most stressful life decision were East of England (44%) and the West Midlands (49%), where CQC has found the highest proportion of adult social care services rated as ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’.

When asked which factors had most influenced choice of care home, the vast majority (72%) of respondents stated seeing the care home for themselves and 44% said the CQC rating and its latest inspection report. Three quarters of respondents (76%) who knew the CQC rating for their care home said that this knowledge made them feel more confident in their decision. One in 10 people said that using CQC’s inspection findings helped them decide a particular care home was not the right choice.

The ability of a care home to meet people’s individual needs and its general ‘feel’ was an important factor when making a choice for 24% and 17% of respondents respectively - more so than its proximity to family and friends (7%) and cost (4%).

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s chief inspector of Adult Social Care said: “Choosing care can be a real worry for people, their families and carers, wondering who or where to turn to – but CQC can help.

“The public needs to know about the quality of care services available and they also need to be reassured that if there are any problems, these are being identified and tackled.

“That is why we publish regular inspection reports with quality ratings on more than 20,000 individual care services registered with CQC. This means that people have access to clear, independent and trusted information to help them make the right decisions for them or their loved one.

“People can be confident that we find most care services in England are providing good, safe care. For those that need to do better, or are not getting any better, we take appropriate action to ensure providers either improve or stop providing care altogether.”

Emily Holzhausen, director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK, said: “Decisions about long-term care are often made at a time of crisis and have important consequences not only for the health and wellbeing of the person with care needs but for their families too. CQC ratings are a simple way of seeing the quality of care being provided by a service and give families confidence in choosing care.”

Minister of State for Care, Caroline Dinenage said: “The CQC offers a good starting point when considering individual care homes or home care services. They help ensure families have timely information and feel better equipped and more confident to make these important choices.”

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