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“My care at home” – Our report into people’s experiences of home care services in Suffolk

“My care at home” – Our report into people’s experiences of home care services in Suffolk


Over 500 people have shared their experiences of home care services with us after one of the largest research projects of its kind across the Healthwatch network. We worked in collaboration with Suffolk County Council to contact users of its home care services.

People responded to an initial survey, which asked them to rate their care and leave feedback. In addition, 50 interviews were conducted with more than 70 service users, their families and carers.

Several themes were identified and structured under areas known to be essential requirements of effective home care as identified in national reports and guidance; produced by Healthwatch England and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The evidence from both the surveys and the interviews show that service users are extremely positive about their carers. Satisfaction ratings in the surveys are very high, with most respondents reporting a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ rating. The report also identifies areas that could be improved to enhance the quality of local care.

These include:

  • Increased focus on people’s needs: It is important carers are fully aware of the specific needs of the person, particularly if they are not the person’s regular carer. Care needs vary from one person to another and it can cause problems when carers are seemingly unaware of what care a person may need.
  • Engage with people: The task-focussed nature of home care can be a barrier to engaging users of services on a human level. Taking a moment to engage with the person can make a big difference to their experience from day to day. This could be as simple as a conversation.
  • Consistency is key: If the user of the service can build a long term and trusting relationship with the person caring for them, this can make personal care much easier to cope with.
  • Tell people if their care is going to change: Changes to care arrangements can have a big impact on peoples experience of care. Taking steps to notify users of services that their carer will be late or a different carer may visit can help to reduce stress.
  • Make more time for care: People have sympathy for the pressures their carers are under. Providers should aim to keep the travel times between appointments realistic. This would release time to care and ensure people receive their full allocation of care.

The report features a number of stories from people receiving care in Suffolk…

The recommendations are intended to inform care providers and Suffolk County Council about the issues faced by people receiving care. This will enable them to build upon current strengths, such as the consistently good quality interaction between service users, family members and their carers, and to address areas of weakness. The report will also help to shape and influence the re-procurement process of Suffolk County Council’s Support to Live at Home (STLH) services planned for 2019.

You can download a copy of the full report here and a copy of the summary report here.

Andy Yacoub (Chief Executive of Healthwatch Suffolk) said:

“Firstly, I would like to thank every person that took the time to respond to this research project. For many, just taking the time to respond is a challenge. The high response rate indicates to us just how important these services are and how passionate people feel about both supporting their carers and where things could change to make their lives that little bit easier.

“It is absolutely clear to us that the majority of people we contacted are highly positive about their care and in particular their carers. That said, our report is about domiciliary care that takes place in someone’s home and providers need to be mindful of that.

“The intentions of our recommendations lie in the premise that an ambition to address them, collectively, would lead to a more rounded, more consistent and more efficient local service, and improved outcomes for the service user.”

Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, Cabinet Member for Adult Care Adult and Community Services said:

“The Council welcomes this comprehensive report that has obtained views from over 500 customers and/or their families.”

 “I would like to share my heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in the survey and HealthWatch Suffolk for completing this valuable research.”

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We are Healthwatch Suffolk and are here to listen to your experiences of health and social care services in Suffolk so that we can use your views to make services better. We also provide information and signposting to help you navigate the health and social care system and understand what to do when things go wrong. We have the strength of the law behind us. It means that the people who run and pay for health and care services must respond to our concerns explaining what action they will take, or why they are not taking action. We get your voice heard where it matters; where decisions are made.

Click here to watch a short video about Healthwatch Suffolk.