Home matters for vulnerable who need care and attention

A SIX MONTH survey of people using home care services across the Reading area has shown how vital and valuable it is to help them continue living at home.

The survey was carried out by Reading Borough Council and Healthwatch Reading and involved interviews with 57 people using services, from mostly private home care providers. The results will now be used by the Council to further drive up the quality and improve the consistency of care given by private providers in Reading to ensure all residents get the level of care they deserve.

Most people who took part in the survey said how important their service is to them to enable them to manage their daily lives. Family carers also valued the service to give them help with certain tasks or provide a ‘back up’ service so they are able to take breaks.

Although the majority (72 per cent) described their experiences of home care as being positive overall, there were also a number of issues around homecare which were shown to need improving. These include the timeliness of visits, consistency of care workers and training for care workers. The Council and Healthwatch are committed to working with providers to drive up standards so that everyone enjoys the highest quality support as described in the feedback.

The most satisfied users felt their home care workers had enough time to meet their needs, and they had a good rapport with their regular care workers. Many service users spoke of their care workers’ professionalism and their caring attitude, and said they really valued the social interaction with their care workers.

The comments raised during the survey are already being put into practice and used in staff training. Best practice examples are being shared amongst providers through Reading’s Dignity in Care campaign. The information gained is helping the Council and Healthwatch Reading to shape future plans, including working with providers to design a new framework for managing homecare quality.

The Council and Healthwatch will also be inviting voluntary sector groups to show how they can address some of the issues raised in the report about helping older or vulnerable adults avoid loneliness. This issue will be a priority within the next round of local authority grant funding.

Rachel Eden, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care, said: “These in-depth interviews will be vital in helping the Council to work with homecare providers to improve quality across Reading. Care at home is a very personal service and everyone who needs it should be able get the right quality, personalised support they need.”

David Shepherd, Chairman, Healthwatch Reading Trustees, added: “This innovative partnership project has lead to real change in the services people receive in their daily lives. It has shown us how local voices have gone on to lead to service changes, not only for those who use these services currently but for those who will do in the future.”