In our 2016 report, Shining a light on care: helping people make better care home choices we argued that both the care sector as a whole, and older people and their families, urgently need to know more about quality in care homes. As part of this research, we consulted older people, their families and care experts in order to develop a set of 10 quality indicators for care homes.
We had an opportunity to test out these indicators in practice through a partnership with Healthwatch Camden, the consumer champion for health and care locally. Through a series of care home visits at the end of 2016, Healthwatch Camden used our 10 indicators to gather information on each of the seven care homes for older people in Camden. Findings from the visits were written up into a series of reports, now available to the public on the Healthwatch Camden website.
Following this pilot project, we wanted to evaluate:
- how easy it was to elicit the information we wanted using the visits process
- how appropriate the indicators were for people thinking about care homes choices
- whether the final product - the set of reports - really would aid decision making for local people.
In order to answer these questions, we evaluated the project through:
- a questionnaire to all the volunteer visitors, to hear about their experience of doing the visits and asking questions of management, staff, residents and families
- two focus groups held in January 2017 with 16 Camden residents who had expressed an interest in local care homes, to hear about their experience of reading the reports Healthwatch Camden had produced.
This report sets out what we learnt from this process and adaptations we would recommend were this approach to be taken by another local Healthwatch. The report also introduces our revised eight indicators of care home quality.