My care at home

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Summary of report content

‘My Care at Home’, research carried out by Healthwatch Suffolk (HWS) and commissioned by Suffolk County Council (SCC), provides an overview of service user and family carer experience of home care services in Suffolk. Research into such services is extremely important in the context of an ageing population, finite funding of social care in the midst of national austerity measures, and findings from other local Healthwatch that suggest the experience of service users is largely the same across the country. As a result of information received from local stakeholders and service users in Suffolk, HWS designed this project to discover what local service users and their family carers think of their home care service. The themes and recommendations of this report, many of which reflect mostly smaller scale studies conducted by ten other local Healthwatch, seek to highlight opportunities for bringing about a wide range of changes that could collectively add to the current quality of home care provision in Suffolk. The project was designed in two phases and started in November 2017. Healthwatch Suffolk recognises that conducting such a survey during a winter period, and in particular a winter that had a distinct impact on rural health and care systems nationally, could be reflected in some of the survey and interview responses. Service users and their family members were initially contacted through a scoping survey, which was mainly distributed by SCC to a random selection of [2,164] service users of Council funded care. Scoping surveys were also distributed by voluntary sector services and Healthwatch Suffolk’s Community Development Team. The scoping surveys gave service users an opportunity to give a satisfaction rating and asked for respondents to share some details about their experience of care. Surveys were received from 517 service users, family members and friends, involving 76 different care providers, including both private providers and Council funded care services. Nine responses were received from professionals which were not included in the analysis due to the low response rate. There was generally high satisfaction with the care received. Underlying problems were often highlighted in the open-ended question responses. Phase two of the research consisted of 50 in-depth qualitative semi-structured interviews involving 72 service users and/or their family members. These explored service user’s experience of care in more detail. Every effort was made to interview service users from different localities and involving a wide range of care providers. This research into home care was wide-ranging and the results and recommendations highlight the strengths and weaknesses in the home care system as experienced by the service user. Where consistent care is provided, and service users know their carers well and are treated with dignity and respect, they feel real benefit. Lateness, non-arrival and having too many different carers can cause distress and confusion. Good communication and co-operation between service user and care provider gives confidence and stability to the service user and their families. Consistent training in all areas of care also benefits the service user. In a rural county like Suffolk, the difficulties in providing care to all communities are self-evident. HWS believes that acting on the 15 recommendations set out in this report can build on the aspects of home care which are already satisfactory and address shortcomings for the benefit of all those concerned.

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General details

Report title 
My care at home
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Suffolk
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 1 May, 2018
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 May, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 1 May, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Information providing
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Staff attitudes
Staff levels
Staff training
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Social care services 
Home care / domiciliary care

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.