Data released by the consumers’ association Which? last month graphically illustrated the great care divide that has taken hold in the UK.
The figures, which are based on CQC ratings data, confirm a north-south divide in care quality with 29.6% of homes rated Requires Improvement or Inadequate in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber, compared with 23% for the rest of the country.
The divide is just as stark between those care home providers exposed to local authority fee payers and those focused on self-funders.
Avery Healthcare, which has positioned itself towards the private pay market, sits proudly on top of the pile, while the likes of Four Seasons, which has LA exposure of around 85%, languish near the bottom.
While it would be simplistic to say the quality of care at a particular home depends on its exposure to the LA market, inadequate LA fees are making life increasingly difficult for those providers who still predominantly serve publically funded clients with many going out of business or struggling to maintain care quality.
A sector source told CHP that the proportion of income a home or operator derived from council-funded residents, versus those who are self-funding, hugely affected margins: homes with 80-100% publicly funded residents had approximately 20% points lower margin than those with 0-20% publicly funded.
Unless a radical care home funding solution is found to even up the playing field, the great care divide is set to grow ever wider.