· 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 Rochdale has helped to inform a new national report on peoples’ experience of care homes.
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 Rochdale 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 Rochdale, 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 providing good end of life care. One Rochdale care home ensured an elderly lady was cared for in a beautiful peaceful setting with aromatherapy and calming music. As a Catholic the elderly lady received the Sacrament of the sick and the deputy manager and other staff members prayed the Rosary with her ensuring she died peacefully.
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. During an Enter and View visit at a Rochdale care home a patient visitor informed Healthwatch Rochdale that there weren’t many activities available and when there are these don’t always materialise. The visitor informed Healthwatch Rochdale that the patient they visit is at risk of pressure sores and doesn’t get turned at night and they have been notified on several occasions that the patient has fell out of bed.
Although many of the reports produced by local Healthwatch organisations raise concerns about peoples’ 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.
Kate Jones, CEO of Healthwatch Rochdale, said:
“We understand the pressures care home staff are facing and it has been evident to us when visiting care homes that staff care about their patients but are often facing issues such as staff shortages that is impacting on the quality of care they can give. We work closely with local care home managers, providers and commissioners to improve the quality of service based on what residents and their families have told us. By sharing your experiences of care homes with us you can help improve them for you, your friends and family. Your feedback can make a big difference and help to make care better for local people”
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.”