Healthwatch Lancashire contributes to national report on peoples’ experiences of care homes

Work by Healthwatch Lancashire has helped to inform a new national report on peoples’ experiences of care homes.

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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 Lancashire, 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 Lancashire, 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.

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. Healthwatch Lancashire found that there was “no real evidence of meaningful activity” in one home with “no noticeboards displaying any activities” and little interaction between staff and residents although an activities coordinator was due to start.

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.

Sheralee Turner-Birchall, Chief Executive at Healthwatch Lancashire, said: “Since the launch of the programme in 2015 the team have visited more than forty establishments in Lancashire and have spoken with many residents and staff together with resident’s family and friends. During visits the team gathered information about the nature and quality of care and services provided and have observed much good practice and have used their experience of ‘The Mum’s Test’ to compile a report and a supporting checklist – Healthwatch Lancashire’s Guide to Choosing a Care or Nursing Home.

“We hope these documents may assist those undertaking their own ‘Mum’s Test’ when seeking a suitable nursing or residential care home. In addition, we hope this document may also assist managers or owners of residential care or nursing homes when comparing their facilities and services with others, and that it may provide ideas for further improvement.”

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.”

The report, ‘What’s it like to live in a care home?’ can be read and downloaded here: 

Healthwatch Lancashire’s ‘Mum’s Test’ Documents, ‘Choosing a Care Home: The ‘Mum’s Test’ Checklist’ and ‘Mum’s Test: Good Practice Observations from Lancashire’s Residential Care & Nursing Home Sector’ can be read and downloaded here: