One in four English care homes are rated Inadequate or Requires Improvement, according to Which? analysis of CQC data published today.
The research revealed that over 77,000 beds for older people in England are in the bottom two CQC categories.
Which? managing director of public markets, Alex Hayman, said: “Too few providers are able to offer consistent, high-quality care – limiting choice for stressed families in a system which is already close to breaking point. ‘The government must tackle issues highlighted by the CMA now and then turn to the bigger changes needed to ensure everyone has access to the care they need.”
Avery Healthcare topped the list with none of its 14 homes rated Inadequate or Requires Improvement.
Sunrise Senior Living and Greensleeves came second and third amongst private and non-profit providers with just 2% and 5%, respectively, of services rated Requires Improvement or Inadequate.
At the other end of the scale, ideal Carehomes propped up the table with almost two-thirds of its care home in the bottom two CQC categories.
There was a large variation in quality amongst large providers with 35% of Four Seasons homes rated Inadequate or Requires Improvement, compared with just 15% for Sanctuary Care.
Four Seasons was also the worst regional provider for the elderly in the West Midlands, East and South West England, rating 43rd out of 54 providers overall.
Four Seasons’ ranking reflects the difficulties being faced by providers with greater exposure to local authority fee payers, with 85% of its residents funded by the local authority.
Variations were also found on a regional basis with 53.3% of services in Stockport rated inadequate or Requires Improvement, compared with 7.1% for Bury.
In the South East, Milton Keynes and Reading had no homes in the bottom two CQC categories, while Portsmouth had 58.3%.
There was also a clear 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.
More than half of outstanding homes were found in the South East and South West.
Smaller homes were rated better than larger ones with 12.9% of homes of 10 or fewer beds rated Inadequate or Requires improvement, compared with 40.5% for 120 and more beds.
Council run homes performed slightly better than private homes with 20.2% in the lower categories, compared with 25.1% for the latter.
Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “This study reflects the harsh reality of the social care crisis, which is affecting the quality of care provided and its availability.
“It’s a further warning on the sustainability of the care market, which is becoming increasingly fragile.
“There is an urgent need for genuinely new funding and long-term reform of the sector if councils and providers are to address the severity of challenges facing the provider market to ensure people receive high quality care at the right time and the right place for them.”
Sector sources pointed out 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.