Extra Care

Gathering residents' experience of living in extra care housing in Lambeth

Our Extra Care Review used Enter and View to visit five of the borough's extra care housing schemes to find out whether residents have a good quality of life.

Why extra care housing?

We chose to focus on extra care housing because:

  • there is very little information available about the quality and safety of these types of services
  • demand for these services is increasing with an ageing population and increase in conditions like dementia
  • Lambeth Council is planning to expand extra care provision
  • the visits build on our earlier review of dementia services in Clapham Park and our investigations into loneliness and isolation.

We wanted to find out whether extra care residents:

  • have a good quality of life
  • are able to maintain their independence and be safe
  • feel they have a good social life and feel connected to their community.

The film

Our short film funded by Health Innovation Network South London, features Kath, Stephen, Eileen, Aba and Gwen talking about their daily lives in extra care.

Who we listened to

In total, we heard from 52 residents in one-to-one conversations or group discussions, 16 family members, 22 care staff and 17 stakeholders with management or support functions.

We found that:

  • These services generally offer a good level of care, but some care needs to be more attentive and joined up, and some carers felt under pressure time-wise.
  • Extra care buildings are safe and fit for purpose, but not fully dementia friendly.
  • Communal spaces are under-used and activities programmes are not as successful as they could be.
  • Many extra care residents seemed lonely and isolated (as reflected in some of the comments in our film) and we didn’t find much community spirit.

We concluded that extra care services have the potential to offer residents a good quality of life, but services need to provide the right support to help people make the most of opportunities.

How we are making a difference

In autumn 2016, we invited all Lambeth’s extra care residents to an afternoon tea at Helmi House.  We wanted to find out how residents were feeling one year on from our review.

In response to our findings, in spring 2016, Lambeth Council had provided a grant to each extra care scheme for activities.  We wanted to know what difference the grants may have begun to have.

Participants at our tea and chat event told us about a range of activities they already enjoy and also had plenty of ideas about what else they would like to see, showing real appetite for more socialising and opportunities to play an active part in the community.

In the lead up to the event, we also asked a songwriter and residents from one of the schemes to write a song on the theme of ‘being connected’ which they performed on the day.  We filmed the making of the song and produced a short update report, calling on commissioners to track activity programmes at the schemes to make sure they deliver for residents and build links with the neighbourhood.

The film

Clarence Avenue extra care residents and Paxton Green Timebank volunteers come together to write and perform a song about "being connected".