Families will be able to check the safety and quality of every care home in the country on a new TripAdvisor-style website run by the NHS.
They will be able to see if homes have been rated good or inadequate by inspectors and read critical reviews from other relatives.
The site is being launched by the Government amid concern that as many as a third of care homes in England fail to meet basic standards.
At the worst, inspectors have found patients calling for help, left severely dehydrated or with ‘worrying’ bruises.
From today, the details of all 17,000 care homes in England will be published on a section of the NHS Choices website.
Each will have an overall rating of outstanding down to inadequate, based on the most recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
But relatives will also be able to award their own scores out of five and write reviews, similar to those on the TripAdvisor website for hotels and restaurants.
There will be nothing to stop care home managers giving themselves glowing reviews under the guise of members of the public. Staff or relatives with a grudge against a home could also post bad reviews unfairly.
However, officials at the Department of Health say comments will be checked before they go online to ensure they are not offensive and the website will be constantly monitored.
Ministers hope the site will drive up standards by encouraging the worst-rated homes to improve, or relatives will be unlikely to choose them.
The Mail has repeatedly exposed failings in residential care as part of our Dignity for the Elderly campaign.
Health minister Alistair Burt said: ‘This is a victory for those who are worried about care. With a click of a button, the public will be able to make an informed choice about care.
‘This data will show clearly the difference in quality across care homes and will help drive up standards by highlighting poor performers, which will mean they have to shape up their services or lose out.’
The Government claims the website will make England the first country in the world to provide families with so much information about care homes.
Figures from the CQC show 36 per cent of residential care homes inspected so far have been graded as inadequate or requiring improvement.
The situation is even worse for nursing homes caring for frailer patients, with 55 per cent deemed inadequate or requiring improvement based on recent inspections.
The CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, Andrea Sutcliffe, has admitted that ‘week in, week out, our inspectors discover some truly awful care’. At the worst homes, they have found residents with ‘worrying bruises’ or dementia sufferers with ‘malnutrition or life-threatening dehydration’.
In an interview earlier this year, she said there was a ‘shocking lack of respect for people’s dignity’ in the worst homes.
‘Sometimes it is abuse – older people treated roughly, worrying bruises that have no explanation,’ she said. ‘Sometimes it is neglect …It can all add up to a thoroughly miserable and frightening experience for people often in the most vulnerable of circumstances.’
At one, the Old Village School Nursing Home in Bedfordshire, inspectors uncovered such appalling neglect they sought a court order to close it immediately. But this was granted only at 5pm and some frail residents were still being moved out on to the street in wheelchairs at midnight before being transferred.
The new website will also state the hygiene rating of homes, based on inspections by the Food Standards Agency, and the number of beds.
It will give the staff turnover, as a percentage of those who left in the last year, and whether there is a registered manager.
Beth Britton, a campaigner whose father spent nine years in care homes after being diagnosed with dementia, said: ‘Anything that helps families to be more informed when making these decisions is to be welcomed.
‘I very much hope this new resource will provide more transparency about quality of care and give families increased insight at what is a hugely challenging time.’
Source Mail Online