What has it been like to live or work in a care home over the last few months? To be the friend or relative of a care home resident, and unable to visit them? It has concerned me greatly, as we have seen a tragedy unfolding in care homes, that the voices of those who matter most, the ‘experts by experience’ have not been sufficiently heard.
That’s why I’m publishing this report, which gives a voice to people living and working in our care homes and provides a snapshot of their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report is based on over 120 responses (received between 14 May and 05 Jun) from older people, their families and friends and care home staff to a series of questions about their experiences during lockdown, the issues and challenges they have faced and the changes and improvements they would like to see. Responses were shared via an online form, over the telephone, by email and by letter. I also arranged engagement sessions with a small number of care home residents in care homes in north and south Wales to allow more detailed discussions with older people about their experiences during the past few months.
The report not only highlights the issues and challenges they have faced, but also some of the good practice that has been making a positive difference to older people’s lives in the most difficult circumstances. In addition to what has been highlighted as part of this report, a number of other, more specific issues have been shared with me, which I am also following up on.
The report includes a number of calls for action – based on what older people, their families and friends, and care home staff have shared with me – which set out what needs to happen, both immediately and in the longer-term, to ensure that older people living in care homes are kept safe and protected, and have the best possible quality of life.
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond and share their experiences with me. I know for some this would have been incredibly difficult, but it’s crucial that their voices are heard and are at the centre of plans and decisions about what happens in our care homes as we navigate the difficult path ahead of us.
This report and my calls for action are an important starting point, but further, wider action will be needed, particularly in the longer-term. So as Commissioner I will continue to engage with older people living in care homes, with their families and friends, and with care home staff throughout Wales to ensure their voices are heard and continue to be heard, and that their experiences are used to drive change, both now and in the future.
Click here to download Care Home Voices