What's it like? People's experiences of residential and nursing care homes

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Suffolk undertook a survey of care home residents, relatives and friends. 600 people responded to the survey.

Visiting professionals visited a wide range of care homes in Suffolk, and more than two thirds (72%) of the homes they visited they judged to be “good” or “very good”. Residents, and family and friends, were asked to give the care home they were responding about a star rating - five stars for “very good”, and one star for “very poor”. Eighty-five per cent of those that responded gave their care home four or five stars. Ninety-six per cent of responses said that they feel that their resident, relative, or friend was safe in their care home.

 Eighty-three per cent of residents and 89% of family and friends believed that their care home provided a range of activities that the residents could participate in. Unfortunately, the approval ratings dropped when asked if the activities were accessible or available outside of the home.

When it came to the relationship between staff and residents, and their family and friends, the approval ratings were very high, as 97% of residents and 91% of their family and friends agreed that there was a good relationship between staff and residents.

There were similarly high ratings for respect of privacy and dignity and positive communication. The availability of staff for residents and their family and friends was highly rated. There were also high ratings for personal care and support, mealtime support, the choice and quality of food and accessing other services.  However, access to dentistry services and support of oral hygiene generally was not as good. Ninety-eight per cent of residents and 96% of their family and friends agreed that their care home was clean, tidy, and comfortable. Homes and gardens were easy to move around.

Family and friends said that they were broadly satisfied with the support given to a resident who has dementia (87%), including the provision of activities suitable to their needs. However, the families and friends of residents with dementia were less positive that they are listened to than the families and friends of residents without dementia.

Families and friends of residents with NHS Continuing Healthcare-funded places felt less involved in decision making than the group as a whole. Residents and their family and friends were confident that if they needed to complain, they would. While 86% of relatives and friends were involved in the decision to move a resident into a care home, less than half of the residents said they were involved.

Family that were looking for support for an elderly relative with dementia or with funded nursing care were more likely to factor in the CQC ratings given to homes compared with the sample as a whole. In contrast, very few potential residents who were involved with choosing their care home were likely to refer to CQC ratings. The data suggested that there is some correlation between funding stream and having a choice in care home selection.

The report contains ten recommendations about communication, activities, access to health care, support at mealtimes, suitable environments, complaints, staff training, access to needs assessments and staff attitude.

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General details

Report title 
What's it like? People's experiences of residential and nursing care homes
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Suffolk
Date of publication 
Friday, 30 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 1 June, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Wednesday, 19 August, 2020
Key themes 
Building and facilities
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Complaints procedure
Cost of services
Digitalisation of services
Food and nutrition
Health protection
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Staff training

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
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 
Nursing care home
Residential care home

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of long term conditions 
Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

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? 
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? 
Not known
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

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.