Increasing extra care housing is a key part of Lambeth Council’s strategy for supporting people to continue to live independently in their own home.
In 2014 we reviewed dementia services in the Clapham Park area of SW41. We visited two extra care housing facilities and found a wide variation in the experiences of tenants.
Following this, we decided to visit all extra care housing facilities in the borough. We were interested in whether this type of service improves and maintains people’s independence, safety and quality of life, and in particular, whether these settings decrease social isolation and loneliness.
External environment: pleasant with trees and shrubs in the small strip of garden that surrounds the front of the building. Large enclosed and landscaped communal garden, with seating areas and one area that is covered.
Internal environment: The front door is secure and visitors sign in. Office and reception staff are clearly seen from the entrance, which leads into an open area with seating. There were posters and information leaflets on the walls, along with photographs of residents engaged in various activities.
The visiting team felt that the overall feedback by residents suggested that quality of care provided was good. Residents commented ‘It’s alright living here. I’ve been here four years. It’s nice, I like it’, ‘I like living here. I like the care I get and all the respect that they give me’
We made a series of recommendations based on the visit:
- Consideration should be given to maximising wheelchair access to the garden.
- Signs should be identified by a picture graphic as well as words, in line with PLACE guidance.
- Helmi House staff should review procedures to optimise the safety of tenants in the communal areas. Measures could include providing extra support to tenants who feel anxious about the behaviour of other residents.
The visiting team found that most tenants felt safe and appeared satisfied with the care they receive. Helmi House appears to be well managed, with the built environment and the care we observed of good quality. We particularly noted the successful activities programme run by the scheme, and the support provided by the landlord for the various initiatives. However, we also recognise that some of the residents we spoke to feel lonely and isolated despite the activities programme. Further strategies are needed to ensure that every resident has the information and opportunity