Work by Healthwatch Bucks, following visits to 31 homes as part of our Dignity in Care project, has helped to inform a new national report on peoples’ experience of care homes.
What we did
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 Bucks to find out what day to day life is really like for many of those living in care homes.
The Healthwatch England report outlines key next steps for care homes and how feedback can be used to identify a whole host of small, low cost changes that ensure all residents feel ‘at home’.
What we found
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 really help residents to live their lives. In one care home, a relative told Healthwatch Bucks that two staff had brought their mother, once their shifts were over, to a surprise 60th birthday tea which the family had talked about. This unexpected gesture really touch the relative concerned. “Carers here go above and beyond”.
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. In one care home, Healthwatch Bucks did not witness any organised activities nor could any resident or visitor we spoke to recall any having taken place recently.
Although many of the reports produced by local Healthwatch organisations raise concerns about people’s experiences, care home managers have responded to the feedback positively:
Care homes have been positive about our visits and look to act on our recommendations, often agreeing to review processes and making changes very quickly. It is also great to be able highlight best practice we see in one home to other care homes and work together to improve the lives of residents.
Alison Holloway, Healthwatch Bucks Dignity in Care Project Manager
What can you do?
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 we would urge anyone who wants to share their experiences, good or bad, to get in touch