Care for the Elderly

What’s the story? 

Around a third of the UK’s nursing homes fall short on safety, according to a new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The report called the failings, which place around 70,000 vulnerable people at risk, ‘completely unacceptable’.

What’s happening?

Over 200,000 elderly people in the UK live in nursing homes, either being funded by local councils or paying the fees themselves. According to new research, over a third of them could be at risk, after an inspection of 24,000 care services across the UK found severe safety issues throughout the care system.

The CQC’s national report, published in early July, found that safety issues were most prevalent in nursing homes, although there were also significant problems in care homes and with home help services. According to the study, 37% of nursing homes are ‘failing on safety’, compared with 24% of care homes and 22% of home helps.

Horror stories of unsafe care abound. The report highlighted some of the key examples of safety failings, including the death of one 62 year old man who broke his neck after falling from a shower chair, and a number of cases where residents had simply been put back to bed after waking up in the morning because there weren’t enough staff to deal with them. Problems in the recruitment and retention of staff have been highlighted as one of the key contributing factors to the figures.

As a result of the inspections, five service providers have been prosecuted, with another 1,000 subject to enforcement action. The CQC said that all of the services deemed to be failing would be subject to monitoring and re-assessment. Meanwhile, local media across the country has quickly begun naming and shaming their worst nearby offenders. However, the CQC have been quick to point out that despite the many examples of poor quality care, the majority of nursing homes in the UK continue to offer good or excellent care.

What have others been saying?

The BBC wrote that vulnerable people are effectively playing ‘Russian Roulette’ when choosing nursing care.

Elderly care charity Age UK have expressed concern over the CQC report, saying that care provision has turned into ‘a postcode lottery.’ Their checklist for finding a good care home is here.

The full CQC report can be found here.



One of the saddest implications of the CQC report is how the UK’s society now views its elders: as a problem to be dealt with, often without enough thought given to safety. In line with most other cultures throughout history, the Bible’s perspective is that our elders should be cherished and honoured. Proverbs 20 v 29 talks about “the splendour of old men” being their grey hair; their age denoting wisdom and experience, while Leviticus 19 v 32 says we should “honour the face of an old man.” Older people – as described in Titus 2: 1-15 – should be seen as spiritual pace-setters; matured disciples to whom younger believers can look for help and guidance.


Paul has some strong words for those who forget their responsibilities to the older family members. In 1 Timothy 5 v 8 he writes: “if anyone does not provide for his relatives... he is worse than an unbeliever.” Earlier in the same chapter, he specifically addresses the children and grandchildren of widows, and again implores them to support their elders. Rather than seeing older people as a problem, Paul tells his readers to include and provide for them within the family unit. This is also backed up by Proverbs 23 v 22 which includes a reminder to inheritance-hunters: “do not despise your mother when she is old.”

Points for prayer

  • Pray for vulnerable elderly people in your community – particularly those in nursing care.
  • Pray for those who are subject to care which the CQC has deemed unsafe – that they would quickly be safely provided for.
  • Pray against further accidents and safety incidents such as those uncovered by the report.
  • Pray for failing services, that this report would be a catalyst for improvement and change

Author Bio

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Martin Saunders

Martin Saunders is Youthscape’s Deputy Chief Executive. A former editor of Youthwork magazine and the founding Editor of sister-title Childrenswork, Martin is a popular speaker and the author of various books including ‘Youth Work From Scratch’. He lives in Reigate, Surrey with his wife Jo and their four children.