First Independent Visits Carried out at County Council Care Homes

Healthwatch Derbyshire, the independent organisation representing the views of the Derbyshire public on health and social care services, has carried out the first stage in its programme of unannounced visits to all Derbyshire County Council-run care homes.

Healthwatch Derbyshire has been appointed by Derbyshire County Council to carry out Enter and View visits to all of its 22 care homes that support older people including four services supporting people with learning disabilities by March 2017 and report back their findings.  

The programme is part of the County Council’s internal quality audit system and was introduced following a series of visits carried out to homes by Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Councillor Paul Smith, deputy cabinet members Councillors Paul Jones and Rob Davison and the newly-appointed Strategic Director for Adult Social Care Joy Hollister.

Trained volunteers have carried out 17 Enter and View visits to care homes across the County since June.  The first nine have had their reports completed and the summary report covers homes in Belper, New Mills, Shirebrook, Staveley, Long Eaton, Ashbourne, Bakewell, Tibshelf and Heanor. Volunteers observed the care home operations, viewed the facilities available and spoke to residents, family members and visitors and to staff.  They have reported their views with a focus on the quality of life and quality of care for residents – highlighting both good practice and any issues for service improvements. Overall, they found that the services provided a homely, welcoming and comfortable environment with a very good standard of care delivered by committed and skilled staff. Particular praise was levelled at the high standard of care with staff treating individuals with dignity and respect.  

The Enter and View teams reported that meals provided were of a high quality. There was good access to additional health and social care services. The proactive involvement of families in residents’ care received particularly positive feedback from those surveyed. They have highlighted that some facilities, including bathrooms, in older care homes should be modernised and outdoor space in a few homes needed to be better tended. Specific support for residents with dementia such as appropriate signage and information should be reviewed and increase the availability of hand sanitisers where appropriate. Activity coordinators were working well in most homes but this important service provision needed to be evident across all homes.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Councillor Paul Smith said: “We remain confident that we are offering extremely high quality care and support to residents at our homes across the county. “It is essential that we maintain these standards while addressing any areas that may be identified through these visits as needing improvement. “These independent visits help us to see what we’re doing well and identify areas where more work is needed and this will support us to deliver on our commitment to directly provide services of the highest quality to the residents of Derbyshire.” “We have made a detailed response to Healthwatch Derbyshire which states improvements already made and plans for the future. “With regards to facilities within our older care homes, the Cabinet has approved an expenditure of £4.1m capital. “A programme of improvements has been mapped out and prioritised.  This includes refurbishment in some homes and others having money to improve bath/ shower facilities, health & safety, infection control and improving the dementia friendly environment.”

Healthwatch Derbyshire Chief Executive Karen Ritchie explained: “An Enter and View visit is not an inspection but is complementary to the quality and safety monitoring work undertaken by the Care Quality Commission and Derbyshire County Council. “Enter and View visits focus on a lay person’s perspective of the care and treatment that residents receive, to ensure that residents are treated with dignity and respect. We concentrate on the service user’s perspective, and their engagement in the care they receive. “Our visits and subsequent reports therefore give a voice to service users, patients and members of the public, so they can speak up about their experiences of care, both good and bad. “We are delighted that Derbyshire County Council obviously value the work carried out by our trained representatives and the information gathering and reporting process that we have in place.”

Healthwatch Derbyshire currently has a group of 16 trained volunteers who carry out Enter and View visits and are expanding the service with further training sessions planned for next Spring.

For more information about how to get involved, please visit or telephone 01773 880786.

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