Elderly care homes: Wales quality review by commissioner

Sarah Rochira, the older people's commissioner for Wales, says she will use her legal powers to carry out the study

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Older people in care homes are to be asked about the quality of care they receive in a new review.

Sarah Rochira, the older people's commissioner for Wales, says she will use her legal powers to carry out the study.

It will involve speaking to older people, their families and carers to ensure more consistency of services.

The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales has welcomed the move.

"Since I took up post, I have spoken extensively about the need to ensure that older people living in care homes in Wales are safe, well cared for and have a good quality of life," Ms Rochira said.

"I have visited many care homes and have seen for myself much good practice across Wales, but I have spoken many times about my concerns that this is not consistent and that we are not getting it right for everyone.

"We must remember that a person's home is so much more than bricks and mortar, it is where you should feel and be safe, well cared for and happy."

Ms Rochira and her team will gather evidence from older people in care homes, their families and carers, as well as from local authorities, local health boards, care home providers, regulators and inspectors.

The evidence will be used both to highlight the best care in Wales and to make recommendations to ensure that the rights of older people are upheld and they have the best possible quality of life.

"It's not enough just to be safe and well cared for," Ms Rochira told BBC Radio Wales.

"This is the place that people call home and they have a right to a really good quality of life.

"I don't think we yet understand what that means - that's why I'm going to give voice back to older people through my review.

Legal action

"When I talk to older people - they talk to me about words such as friendship, hope, love, staying in touch with people, feeling valued, feeling respected - words of real description and warmth, and of course they would in the places they call home.

"But actually the response of our system tends to be national minimum standards and the two just don't fit together.

"I want to give older people back their voice and put their voices back at the heart of the place that they call home."

Last year Ms Rochira warned that public bodies could face legal action if they fail older people when she published the commission's work programme to improve services to older people in 50 areas.

The new review, which will begin in September, has been welcomed by Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

Its chief inspector Imelda Richardson said: "Making sure that homes are safe and that people's experiences are good is at the core of our inspection work, and I look forward to working with the older people's commissioner.

"In the last two years we have transformed the way we inspect services.

"As well as checking that they are run in accordance with the law, we also focus and report on the quality of experiences for people using services.

"Our inspectors spend more time listening and speaking to people about their experiences of the service and support they are receiving. This allows us to get a more accurate picture of a service."

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