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  • Sarah Whitebloom

Holy Smoke. Saints do not necessarily preserve us when it comes to care homes

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet. But when it comes to residential homes, solid-sounding names do not necessarily translate into excellent care. Research by OlderLivingMatters shows some of the most popular care homes names – often featuring English trees and saints – are no guarantees of quality.

In England, the name of St George could actually be a flag of red, rather than red and white. A majority of ‘St George’s’ homes are good. But, according to the Care Quality Commission archives, more than 43 per cent of homes named after the dragon-slayer have negative inspection reports.

St George

Certain children’s names, including Callum, Kyle and Chelsea, are said to strike fear into teachers’ hearts. And various everyday care home names, which are evidently intended to portray solidity and safety, could be potential warning signals. For instance, CQC figures show some 40 per cent of homes with names commencing with the common care home words ‘Orchard’ and ‘High’ have numbers of negative inspection reports.

The regulator’s archives show that some 15 per cent of care homes have a negative report. There are certain names, however, that seem to attract far higher numbers of poor reports.

Included are some with religious names – such as Abbey, Abbot and various saints’ names. Altogether, there are 108 homes with names beginning Abbe or Abbot and some 39 per cent of these ‘Require Improvement’ or are actually branded ‘Inadequate’. Meanwhile, some 27 per cent of homes named after saints have poor reports. However, certain saints appear to offer greater protection than others. No homes named after Saints Peter and Paul have negative reports while Saints Catherine, Michael and Mark are less reassuring.

High percentages of homes named after certain trees, intended no doubt to suggest solidity, good character and common-sense, also have poor reports. While there are many excellent homes with names beginning with the words Beech, Oak and Ash, the archives show that homes with these names have more negative reports than those whose names begin with the equally reassuring words Acorn, Brook or Little.

Of course, most care homes with all of these names have positive CQC reports. However, this research highlights the difficulty for families of identifying good residential care.

OLM’s editor, Sarah Whitebloom says: ‘You cannot tell if a home offers good quality care by its appearance or because it has a good old-fashioned name. This may be obvious, but knowing when a home is good is a real worry for families.

'No one wants to think their relatives are not receiving the best possible care. This is why we have devised a guide for choosing residential care see here. And you should always consult the CQC website to see the latest report on any home.’

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