Two care homes in Rugby have been scrutinised by Age UK volunteers to find out what life was really like for people living there.
Volunteers were invited to explore all aspects of home life, from atmosphere and cleanliness to mealtimes and culture, in an Experts by Experience project between charity WCS Care, which runs the two homes, Drovers House and Westlands, and Age UK Warwickshire.
It’s thought to be the first project of its type in the country.
As well as using discreet observations, the Age UK volunteers mingled with people who live at the homes to find out how they felt about their quality of life. Each volunteer filed a report rating aspects such as cleanliness, staff attitude and atmosphere from poor to excellent, and also commented on how each score was derived.
Between them, Westlands and Drovers House scored seven ‘excellents’, seven ‘goods’ and one ‘adequate’.
Christine Asbury, WCS chief executive officer, said: “We knew there was always going to be a chance that working with Age UK on this project could backfire if volunteers had a bad experience, but the majority of the feedback we had was positive – and much of that was down to the values and compassion of WCS staff which, as one volunteer aptly put, ‘cannot be taught’.
“We already knew from user feedback that the people who live in WCS homes highly rate where they live, but what this project did is give us feedback from an outsider’s perspective.”
Staff were singled out for praise by all volunteers, who also commented that it was their attitude that was one of the biggest factors when it comes to quality of life in care homes.
Not all feedback was as positive, however, with volunteers also commenting on the intrusive rattle and “visible bulk” of the medication trolley “trundling along”; others commented they didn’t see enough choice being offered to people at mealtimes and had themselves to ask for a different pudding after copious amounts of custard were automatically poured over their rhubarb crumble.
Christine added: “It’s the care sector’s job to continually improve services – however minor feedback may appear, if not dealt with their cumulative effect can make homes feel institutional.”
The full findings from Age UK volunteers are available on WCS Care’s website.