Watchdog calls for improvement to activities for care home residents across county

25th January 2017

An independent health watchdog is calling for Surrey County Council to act on the findings of a report which revealed variations in the activities available for elderly care home residents across the region.

Healthwatch Surrey visited 25 care homes in the county and found an inconsistent approach to activities. It now wants Surrey County Council to ensure every care home resident has access to good quality activities that meet their needs.

Although there was evidence of a rich mix of experiences and examples of activities which were valued by residents, these were not available to everyone. One example was of a man with dementia and physical disabilities who said he liked watching Question Time but didn’t get to watch it in the care home, as the staff had not understood that individual’s needs and wishes or been able to fulfil them.

Healthwatch Surrey volunteers, who led the visits, also observed jigsaw puzzles with missing pieces and knitting needles but no wool.

Matthew Parris, Project Manager at Healthwatch Surrey, said: “We found considerable variations in practice. Homes knew what ‘good’ looked like but often found it difficult to deliver.” Mr Parris is speaking out on behalf of care home residents and pointed out that: “Whilst this might seem minor to some, if you are an elderly person living in one of those homes with inadequate activities, it can really affect your daily quality of life”.       

Managers and staff consistently understood what is meant by meaningful activities in the context of ‘person-centred’ care but there was no consistency in delivery including:

  • Less than half of the homes visited reported that they organised day trips for residents
  • No consistent approach to training and support for activities provision
  • Access to the internet was not regularly available across the homes visited.

Specific recommendations have been identified for Surrey County Council, care home providers, the Care Quality Commission and the organisation responsible for developing national standards for the adult social care sector, Skills for Care.

A copy of Healthwatch Surrey’s report is available on their website:

Anyone who has a comment or experience about care homes or other social care or NHS service can contact Healthwatch Surrey on 0303 303 0023 or email contact



For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lauren ter Kuile: 01483 533043 or 07545 433465 or email


Notes to Editors

  1. Healthwatch Surrey staff supported especially trained volunteers to carry out ‘Enter and View’ visits to 25 care homes in the county to observe the environment and speak to residents, staff and managers.
  2. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 grants all local Healthwatch the statutory power to ‘Enter and View’ all publically funded health and social care services. Enter and View is not an inspection, but instead offers a lay person’s perspective on how services are being delivered.


 My Way, Every Day – a look at activities across 25 care homes in Surrey PDF (920 KB)