Government Must Deliver On Social Care Reform

Published: 11/12/2018

Care homes are improving in Northumberland, but the preferred option for many people is to remain as independent as possible by using home care services.

                                                                                                        Written by: Ken Oxley  
                                                                                                    Alzheimer's Society  
                                                                                                     North East & Cumbria

Care homes are improving in Northumberland, but the preferred option for many people is to remain as independent as possible by using home care services.

There was some hopeful news for people affected by dementia in Northumberland last week – a clear sign that the region’s care homes are improving.
A report revealed the number of homes in the county rated ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) fell dramatically.
The figures, contained in a report by the charity Independent Age, showed they fell from 35.1% in 2017 to 19.2% in 2018.

That’s very positive news for this region, but it masks a deep-rooted problem across the country as a whole, where there is a postcode lottery of care home quality.
In the worst areas, more than half of homes are rated in the bottom two categories, whilst five local authority areas have no poorly performing homes at all.
Such huge disparities should not exist, but will continue to do so unless the Government grabs the social care bull by the horns.
The CQC rates homes as either ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’.
It’s encouraging that the number of homes falling into the worst two categories have almost halved in Northumberland.
But with almost one in five remaining below par, it’s still not good enough. This means many older people and their families are struggling to find a choice of good homes.
Independent Age blames the problem on low levels of funding by local authorities, low pay and difficulty recruiting staff, and the lack of good support mechanisms for improving care homes that are struggling.

The recent Spring Statement provided an opportunity for the Government to demonstrate its willingness to tackle the problem.
However, Chancellor Philip Hammond merely reiterated past commitments that will last until 2020, but made no firm promises about new money.
So where does this leave us? Sadly, decades of chronic under-funding have left many care homes struggling to meet rising demand with shrinking resources.
The impending Green Paper on social care reform, due this summer, offers the Government another chance to make a difference. It must take it.

Visit our website at or call our North East office on 0191 2983989.
Ken Oxley is the Media Officer for the Alzheimer’s Society in the North East and Cumbria 
Notes to editors: 
  • Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading dementia charity. We provide information and support, fund research, campaign to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Dementia devastates lives. Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. By 2021, 1 million people will be living with the condition. This will soar to two million by 2051.
  • Dementia deaths are rising year on year and 225,000 will develop dementia this year - that’s one every three minutes.
  • Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia. 
  • Alzheimer’s Society funds research into the cause, care, cure and prevention of all types of dementia and has committed to spend at least £150 million on research over the next decade. This includes a £50 million investment in the UK's first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
  • Until the day we find a cure, Alzheimer's Society will be here for anyone affected by dementia - wherever they are, whatever they're going through. Everything we do is informed and inspired by them.
  • Let's take on dementia together. Volunteer. Donate. Campaign for change. Whatever you do, unite with us against dementia. 
  • Alzheimer’s Society relies on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0330 333 0804 or visiting  
  • Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit