Ratings

Last week I visited the Red Oaks Care Home at Henfield to have a look around and meet the staff and residents.

I was impressed with the quality of the facilities and the dedication of the care staff.  This is clearly one of the best care homes around - and not just because the residents always have a glass of sherry before lunch!

Unfortunately not every care home reaches this standard.  This week the Care Quality Commission said that one in four care homes in England provide poor or only adequate service.

Local people will be relieved that on most measures West Sussex performs better than this. 

But these ratings suggest that last year 11,000 people in England were forced to sell their homes to pay for sub-standard long term care.

That's pretty awful.  An insurance-based Home Protection Scheme would at least allow people to keep their homes when they go into care.

The way in which public services are rated has proved controversial after some hospitals which had officially been ranked ‘good' were found to have delivered unacceptable standards.

Better regulation, which looks at the care real people are receiving, rather than counting tick-box targets, is needed.

In the meantime, it's not surprising that people lose faith in official scorecards which don't seem to tell the true story about services, and turn instead to independent guides.

This weekend the Dr Foster report into patient safety at hospitals placed the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Princess Royal at Haywards Heath, in the top 5 per cent of hospitals in the country - joint sixth out of 146 hospitals.

But the new Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Worthing and Southlands and St Richard's in Chichester, has found itself some way down the ratings.

The Trust says they are working on improvements and find such information useful.  They are right - we need more information about the performance of the services on which we rely, and in a format which is meaningful.

Michelle Taylor