· New study compiles the views and experiences of those who live, visit and work in care homes across England.
· Wide variation revealed, with great care contrasting with homes failing to get the basics right for every resident.
· National Care champion Healthwatch England urges homes to be more open to using feedback from residents, relatives and staff to help drive improvement.
Work by Healthwatch Portsmouth has helped to inform a new national report on peoples’ experience of care homes. Healthwatch Portsmouth have visited 4 care homes and 4 Extra Care schemes, the copies of the reports can be found here
Between January 2016 and April 2017, local Healthwatch staff and volunteers across England visited 197 care homes across 63 different local authority areas, including Healthwatch Portsmouth to find out what day to day life is really like for many of those living in care homes.
The Healthwatch report outlines key next steps for care homes in Portsmouth, how feedback can be used to identify a whole host of small, low cost changes that ensure all residents feel ‘at home’.
The majority of residents and relatives Healthwatch spoke with considered the care they received to be good, with innovative homes showing what is possible without breaking the bank.
Local Healthwatch representatives also saw staff going above and beyond the call of duty to connect with those they care for and really helping them to live their lives including one quality of life worker from Portsmouth who is always finding new ways to make life better for residents including helping residents win a Gold in Portsmouth in Bloom, one resident described her as “marvellous” .
However, Healthwatch volunteer visitors also witnessed homes not getting the basics right with even those providing excellent care failing to tick all the boxes.
Issues local Healthwatch found involved environment, activities, staffing and wider health needs. For example due to the layout of one home in Portsmouth the small dining area where some residents prefer to spend away from the busier lounges was used as a main route through the building with what felt like a constant stream of staff with laundry bags and trolleys.
Although many of the reports produced by local Healthwatch organisations raise concerns about people’s experiences, the vast majority of care home managers have responded to the feedback very positively, often agreeing to review processes and making changes very quickly.
Healthwatch Chairman, Graham Heaney says:
“Healthwatch visits are not inspections but volunteer visitors can still provide valuable feedback to care homes about the service they provide and this can include highlighting good practice that could be shared as well as suggesting improvements that will benefit those living in care homes.”
Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, said:
“It’s not easy running a care home, particularly as the sector as a whole is trying to get to grips with the dual challenge of managing rising demand with limited resources. But getting the basics right doesn’t have to cost the earth and should be the least we should all be able to expect for our loved ones and ourselves should we need care support.
“Care homes are not institutions, they are people’s homes, and the only way to ensure they feel like this for residents is to put them at the heart of shaping how the care home runs. Healthwatch is here to help with this and I would urge anyone who wants to share their experiences, good or bad, to get in touch.”