Helping residents in care homes to remain active

The quality of support offered in care homes has improved because residents spoke up about what they wanted.
Older people in a care home taking part in an exercise class

Many older people lead busy lives before they move into a care home, so it’s important that they are supported to stay active and connected.

On the Isle of Wight, Healthwatch heard reports that the quality of care in some nursing and residential homes was not up to standard, so they decided to find out more.

They visited 13 care homes and spoke to residents, their families and staff about their experiences.

What people said

Healthwatch Isle of Wight found a big difference in the quality of care provided in nursing and residential care homes across the Island.

Some homes had a clear vision, strong leadership and a culture of continuously trying to improve people's quality of life. Others suffered from staff shortages leading to an inevitable drop in standards and a poor quality of care.

People told Healthwatch that in some cases basic care needs were not being met, there were restrictions on food and drink, and families found their loved ones wearing other people’s clothes.

Mum wears other people’s clothing and some of them, I notice, wear hers.

Although most homes offered activities for residents, there was a general feeling that staff did not understand the effect a lack of meaningful activities could have on a person’s quality of life.

To neglect someone’s quality of life is significant. We don’t give it enough significance.

A survey of care home managers by Healthwatch Isle of Wight helped to highlight the pressures staff were facing and what they needed to provide a better service. Some managers felt that staff shortages led to a drop in standards, and this was often worse during the evenings and weekends.

What has changed?

After sharing what they’d heard with the Clinical Commissioning Group, local authority, and Care Quality Commission (CQC), a variety of steps have been taken to make things better.

More residents now have a say in the types of activities they do. Several care homes are also developing activity planners and organising trips to nearby attractions.

Thanks, in part, to Healthwatch Isle of Wight’s efforts, the majority of care and nursing homes have since received a good rating by CQC and no homes are rated inadequate.

Healthwatch also hosted the first Isle of Wight Care Awards to recognise and celebrate the outstanding care they saw during their project.

The work of Healthwatch Isle of Wight received two awards in July. The first was for the way they used people's views to help improve local services. The second for the way the Healthwatch team used NICE guidance to demonstrate to those running residential homes why it was important to have clear plans in place for people. They also helped local authorities understand the difference that improving the quality of care can make to people’s lives.

How does sharing your views make a difference?  

Find out more about how through sharing your ideas and experiences with Healthwatch, you are helping to make a positive change to local health and care services.

Find out more