6.1 The Chair welcomed the Lay Inspectors. Tom White, Les Alden, Norma Lawrence and Pat Duke introduced themselves. The chair invited them to give evidence on their role generally and visits to the ex Southern Cross homes in particular.
6.2 A Lay Inspector commented that right from the very beginning of their inspection work Anchor Homes stood out as better than Southern Cross homes because they were lacking in some of the qualities that are appreciated by residents. There were different standards. Anchor homes are really good. One of the Anchor homes got manager of the year award.
6.3 The Lay Inspectors reflected that in retrospect perhaps they should have raised the bar of what is a good enough care home. They went on to explain that they do not look at technical aspects. One said that he has a couple of questions he asks himself when visiting :
· Would I like my mother to live here?
· Is this a place to live or die?
6.4 A Lay Inspector commented that what we have to avoid is ‘factory care’, which the Lay Inspectors often see. She went on to say that ‘Personalisation’ has not really come to care homes and the quality of life issues and methodologies that emphasise wellbeing should be adopted. She recommended that at the point it is deemed that going into care home is the right choice there should be a book about what the person’s likes are; bedtime, food, colours etc.
6.5 A Lay Inspector said that he agreed with previous comments that Anchor Homes were better. He went on to comment that Burgess Park has always been the home that has struggled, and that the other two homes did improve. The chair agreed and said he had received some anecdotal good feedback.
6.6 One of the Lay Inspectors commented that the embargoes mean that vacancies are increasing which impacts on the occupancy and therefore the financial viability and thus the quality of care. It was noted that some care homes are making offers of deals to private clients. A Lay Inspector commented that there appears to be negotiations between Care Homes and the council on costs and that prices are being screwed down.
6.7 A question was raised about Lay Inspectors and how they work with the monitoring officers. The Lay Inspectors explained that initially they did their visits with monitoring officers, but sometimes they were left waiting. Now Lay Inspectors visit on their own. A Lay Inspector queried how often monitoring officers visited care homes.
6.8 A lay Inspector commented that she honestly did not think that residents were getting £700 worth of care. Residents are often getting meals and beds, but this could be got in a hotel. Often residents are not getting the social provision; instead they are put in wheelchairs and often left in rooms.
6.9 Two of the Lay Inspectors commented that they had visited Tower Bridge homes and raised concerns about shower and wash rooms not working or not being used.
6.10 Lay Inspectors commented that some of the care homes have very good managers and that they should be sharing good practice. There was a comment about staff and the importance of looking after them because if they are unhappy it will impact on care. Lay Inspectors commented that in Burgess Park care home the staff have a tiny little room with tables to eat. This is also where staff have to change and the lockers were broken when they visited.
6.11 Actor noted that in some care homes the parlour is for visitors, when it should be for users. There should also only be one type of toilet; not one for visitors and residents. These are quality of life issues.
6.12 A Lay Inspector commented that sometimes a move to a care homes works out well. One woman was very angry that she was in a care home but the son was struggling to take care of her needs and becoming exhausted from cooking and working. Now she has a choice of food in the home and the son is able to visit regularly and spend more quality time with her, and she is much happier.
6.13 The chair thanked the Lay Inspectors for their evidence and invited members to comment and ask questions. A member asked the Lay Inspectors about visits to the care homes and the relationship with monitoring officers. They responded that the arrangement whereby they can go in independently has been an improvement, and now a Lay Inspector can go in with 20 minutes notice which gives lots of flexibility.
6.14 A member raised concerns about staff being badly paid and that this may link to the profit aspiration of care homes. The member went on to raise the possibility of volunteers going into care homes, even though staff should be paid properly to do the work. A Lay Inspector commented that there is a need to be careful as these are people’s homes. Some people do not have the skills; Lay Inspectors have all received training.
6.15 Members commented that it is good that Southwark has this initiative, but not all boroughs have a Lay Inspectors scheme. A member asked what the method for feeding back your findings is. A Lay Inspector reported that when they make a visit they always feedback verbally to the most senior member of care home staff on site. A report then goes to Age Concern then onwards to council staff, then to staff at the care homes. He said however, he had concerns and was unsure if the final written report does eventually go back to the care home.
6.16 The chair commented that it would be useful for the review to have sight of the reports you have done and that have gone to Age Concern.
6.17 A Lay Inspector commented that it might be useful to grade homes on both medical and social criteria. She commented that many people do want to do more and to have more social interaction.
6.18 A member thanked the Lay Inspectors for their work and asked if they got expenses for their volunteer work and get invited to the Age Concern’s AGM. The Lay Inspectors responded that the funding received for the initiative goes towards their training and they are happy with this. They also confirmed that they did receive an invitation to the AGM.
6.19 The chair thanked the Lay Inspectors for their work and said he hoped they would consider lending there skills to an initiative being discussed with LINks to visit the homes in partnership with scrutiny and ask the residents how they feel the change of ownership was handled and how they feel about the new ownership of the homes.
The Lay Inspectors will provide recent reports on the three care home; Tower Bridge, Camberwell Green and Burges Park.