Failing to care: Large care home providers ranked in Which? analysis

Half of England’s large elderly care home providers have at least one in four failing homes in their network, according to Which? research.

In an analysis of CQC inspection data for 54 providers operating at least 12 homes in England catering only for the over-65s, some had half or more of their homes classed as inadequate or requiring improvement by the regulator.

Two of the biggest – Four Seasons Group (43rd) and Orchard Care Homes (49th) – finished near the the bottom of the rankings.

More than a third (35%) of 167 Four Seasons homes in our analysis were rated as inadequate or requiring improvement by the CQC, while almost half (46%) of 44 Orchard homes were not up to scratch.

The worst performer, Ideal Care Homes, which runs 16 homes across the Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire, had more than three in five (63%) classed as inadequate or requiring improvement by the regulator.

It was joined in the bottom three by Akari Care Ltd, which had 20 homes across the country in our analysis – 60% of which had poor ratings – and Derbyshire County Council, which had 10 failing homes (50%).

There were some success stories, however. At the top of the table, both Avery, which operates nationwide, and North Yorkshire County Council, had all their homes rated as good or outstanding.

Small homes fared better than large ones. Just 13% of English homes with 10 beds or fewer were rated as inadequate or requiring improvement – but for homes with 120 or more beds, 41% were below par.

Overall, our analysis demonstrates how deep problems with quality and choice run in the care system.

Which? has already heard from more than 1,000 people who have highlighted serious problems with finding high quality, affordable long-term care for elderly relatives.

The consumer champion is warning that the situation could deteriorate rapidly as demand for places starts to outstrip supply in some areas.

Previous Which? research has shown that almost nine in 10 council areas across England are facing a shortfall in care home places by 2022 – and some of those areas already have more than half their beds rated as requiring improvement or inadequate.

Which? is calling on the Government to act urgently on the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendations on information provision, complaints and unfair charges, and to use its Green Paper to set out how it will deliver a sustainable system that provides affordable, high quality care for all.

Alex Hayman, Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, said:

“Too few providers are able to offer consistent, high quality care – limiting choice for stressed families in a system which is already close to breaking point.

“The Government must now ensure that its Green Paper on care delivers the fundamental reforms needed to secure high quality, affordable care for older people – both now and in the future.”


Notes to editors:

  • Full table of results:

  • Methodology: We analysed Care Quality Commission inspection results of 4,242 providers, running 7,619 homes, in England, in Dec 2017. To be included in our final table, a provider had to operate at least 12 homes and only cater for over-65s.
  • The 54 providers in our rankings together account for 25% (1,917) of those 7,619 homes or 35% of all beds (291,622)

  • The CQC is the regulator responsible for the quality of care provision in England. while the rest of the UK is covered by Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW), the Care Inspectorate (CI) in Scotland and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland. You can look up English care home report results at

  • More than 100,000 people have signed a petition as part of Which?’s Care Needs Care Now campaign

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