Deciding to make the move into a care home is a big decision. There are a lot of things to think about all at once, and it can be difficult to know what questions to ask or how to quickly judge a really good care home.
That’s why, at Independent Age, we’ve been working to develop a set of quality indicators that would help increase the information available to older people and their families about care homes – particularly in giving people a real sense of what a home may be like to live in.
Working with Healthwatch Camden – the consumer champion for health and care locally – we had an opportunity to test out some indicators that we first presented in our Shining a light on care report. Through a series of visits at the end of 2016, Healthwatch Camden used these indicators to gather information on each of the seven care homes for older people in Camden. Reflecting on the process and talking to local people about them, we have now refined our thinking and developed a final set of eight indicators.
Throughout 2017, Independent Age will be continuing to work in the area of care home quality and information as part of our Better Choices, Better Care campaign. You can find out more about how you can get involved here.
A good care home should…
Have strong, visible management
The manager should be visible within the care home, provide good leadership to staff and have the right experience for the job.
Have staff with time and skills to do their jobs
Staff should be well-trained, motivated and feel they have the resources to do their job properly.
Have good knowledge of each individual resident and how their needs may be changing
Staff should be familiar with residents’ histories and preferences and have processes in place for how to monitor any changes in health and wellbeing.
Offer a varied programme of activities
Care homes should provide a wide range of activities (and ensure residents can access these) in the home and support residents to take part in activities outside the home.
Offer quality, choice and flexibility around food and mealtimes
Homes should offer a good range of meal choices and adequate support to help residents who may struggle to eat and drink, including between mealtimes. The social nature of eating should be reflected in how homes organise their dining rooms, and accommodate different preferences around mealtimes.
Ensure residents can regularly see health professionals such as GPs, dentists, opticians or chiropodists
Residents should have the same expectation to be able to promptly see a health professional as they would have when living in their own home.
Accommodate residents’ personal, cultural and lifestyle needs
Care homes should be set up to meet residents’ cultural, religious and lifestyle needs as well as their care needs, and shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable if they are different or do things differently to other residents.
Be an open environment where feedback is actively sought and used
There should be mechanisms in place for residents and relatives to influence what happens in the home, such as a Residents and Relatives Committee. The process for making comments or complaints should be clear and feedback should be welcomed and acted on.