Amplifying the voice of care home residents

How are activities provided in care homes?

Healthwatch Surrey’s main areas of work on the topic of care homes included:

My Way, Every Day: A look at the activities available to residents in 25 Care Homes across Surrey

What I want, within reason: An exploration of mealtimes in 20 care homes for older people

• Report on advance care planning (due Autumn 2019)

This work has provide a unique insight into the views of a group of people who faces significant barriers to being heard. It led to 24 recommendations and a number of improvements for Care Home residents.

My Way, Every Day

93 service providers responded to the report My Way, Every Day. They told us that about some of the improvements that they were making to the activities they offer:

“Limegrove, which is one of the care homes visited, has a weekly bus trip now taking place.”
“We have increased the number of hours available to dedicated activities coordinators and we now employ two people that help co-ordinate activities.”
“All staff have attended further training on person centred care.

A commissioner told us that:

“A community matron has been employed to assist care homes with identifying areas for improvement and we will be re-invigorating our Care Home Forums which would include activities of various nature”

Safety concerns were raised by a Healthwatch volunteer during a visit to a Care Home in East Molesey. This prompted an inspection by the Care Quality Commission who subsequently took the difficult decision to close the service.

What I want, within reason

44 service providers responded to the report. Nearly all those giving feedback said they found our report helpful or very helpful. Ideas and practices from care homes featured in our report are being taken up by other providers including:

 Visualisation of meal choices (photographs, plated meals)
 Reappraisal of music in the dining room
 Ensuring residents are not left waiting at table alone and unstimulated

“I liked Key Finding 5 especially using large napkins instead of bibstyle aprons, it’s more dignified and appropriate”

Prompted by the report, homes have also adopted new initiatives to improve their feedback systems and enhance their understanding of residents’ needs and wishes; Chefs and staff eating with residents, visiting the dining room more often and meal/nutrition-specific feedback books.

Live Project: Advanced Care Planning

Advance care plans are records of decisions made about possible future medical needs, for those who might be in the last year of their life or who have a terminal diagnosis. They are put in place primarily to help in emergency situations when healthcare professionals who do not know the person have to make quick decisions about treatment.

People moving into care homes is a key moment for advance care plans to be put in place. Anyone moving into care is likely to be at risk of deterioration in their health, and care homes are a very efficient audience for CCGs wishing to improve advance care planning provision.

We know that the process is bringing benefits to the health and social care system. We are looking at how people and families experience the process. A report is due to be published in Autumn 2019.

Whilst Healthwatch Surrey will be adopting a new priority, it is clear that this remains a group which faces significant barriers to being heard. We will remain alert and responsive to any concerns we hear during our routine evidence gathering.

If you or someone you know have an experience about a care home that could make positive changes to residents’ lives. Please tell us about your experience here.


My Way Every Day – A look at activities across 25 Care Homes in Surrey PDF (920 KB)

Impact Report: ‘My Way Every Day’ PDF (111 KB)

Provider Responses to ‘My Way, Every Day’