Life in a care home, what’s it really like?

August 10, 2017

Healthwatch has published What it’s like to live in a care home? a new report focusing on peoples’ experience of life in a care home. It found out what day-to-day life is really like for many people living in care homes and follows almost 200 site visits.

Between January 2016 and April 2017, local Healthwatch staff and volunteers across England visited 197 care homes across 63 different local authority areas, to find out what day-to-day life is really like for those living there. The resulting report outlines key next steps for care homes, 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 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 activities co-ordinator from Cheshire who arranged for her own wedding reception to take place in the care home she worked at to enable residents to join in with the party.

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 the environment, activities, staffing and wider health needs. Residents themselves identified problems with things as simple as getting dressed.

Although some 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.

However, despite there being a statutory duty on providers of health and care services to respond to the recommendations made by local Healthwatch, 51 of the care homes visited have not yet responded. Healthwatch says that this, together with some of the basic problems highlighted, raises some concerns about a worrying culture of apathy towards the views and experiences of residents in some homes. Care home managers are encouraged to work with their local Healthwatch to actively seek out and use feedback to drive improvement.

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[…] Healthwatch England has analysed the experiences of 3,415 domiciliary care users, their families and frontline staff across 52 local areas between August 2015 and June 2017 to collate its new report on experiences of homecare services. It comes two weeks after Healthwatch's report into life in a care home. […]