Dignity project in care homes across Somerset

Somerset Enter and View Project Overview.

The Enter and View Team have been busy visiting and reporting on a cross section of homes offering residential care for older persons across Somerset. Nursing homes, dementia care homes and residential homes large and small were selected from Wells to Minehead and Wellington to Bridgwater. Somerset is a popular place to retire and has one of the highest number of population aged over 65 in the UK. As we are living longer the need for residential services increases and the need to ensure care homes offer quality services that show residents dignity and respect is paramount.

The aims of our Enter and view project are to;

  • Capture an overview of Residential and Nursing Homes for older persons as observed and discussed with staff, residents and visitors to the home;
  • Identify good practice relating to the provision of care in the home;
  • Identify good examples of dignity in care as outlined by the Social Care Institute for Excellence publication: 'The Dignity Factors'; and
  • Seek ways to ensure these are shared among care home providers.
  • Make recommendations for investigation or improvements as and where observed.

The Enter and View team talk with residents, visitors and staff about what it's like living in the care home with a focus on Dignity in Care. We use the 10 Dignity standards as a guide for structuring our reports. The standards include areas such as, communication, choice and control, and social inclusion. Here are just a few of our good practice examples we have identified so far:

  • Offering one to one time with residents on a regular basis compiling life story books and really getting to know residents. Knowing a residents history and preferences can really make a big difference to the personalised care they receive.
  • Including local groups and services in the home such as the Cub Scouts who sometimes offer a Christmas postal service, or the Rotary Club who have provided residents in a care home near Yeovil with transport to see the a local school play. One service built links with the local stroke club and share their mini bus. And another service invited a local society to screen films in a large conservatory area and residents are invited to join in.
  • Ensuring that portion size and meal preferences of residents are observed. Some homes give two smaller portions to residents who may take longer to eat to ensure their meal remains hot and does not need to be re-heated.
  • Residents are able to choose where they wish to eat and some who have difficulty eating may prefer to take meals in their room.
  • Regular meeting with residents and visitors involving activities staff and kitchen staff are important ways to involve people in the running of the home. Some homes also have suggestion boxes and circulate regular satisfaction surveys to residents and relatives. Other homes have their own friends of the care home groups who get involved with collecting feedback from residents and raising funds for additional activities.

As wells as gathering good practice examples we also come across issues that are common to lots of homes. For example, many homes have had difficulties when residents are discharged from hospital. Another common issue is many residents cannot afford to get out and about as much as they would like to. Some homes have taken creative and active steps to lesson these problems and it is important that we share these good practice examples with other homes. Sometimes it's the little things that can make a big difference. As the project progresses we continue to find ways of sharing good practice with as many residential and nursing homes as possible. If you would like to see some of the reports we have written please get in touch or visit our website www.somersetlink.org.uk