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. During 2014 we undertook a review of dementia services in the Clapham Park area of SW41. Two extra care housing facilities were involved in the review and the visiting team found a wide variation in the experiences of tenants. Consequently, we decided to visit all extra care housing facilities in the borough during January and February of 2015. We are 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: The building was opened in 2006 and won architectural awards for its design. Access to the building is from Lingham Street. There is a garden area for use by the tenants which can be reached via the lounge and dining area.
Internal environment: The front door is secure and for visitors to gain access there is an intercom system controlled by the staff. The door entry signage is not very clear, particularly for visually impaired visitors. Once inside, all visitors have to sign in.
Meeting with residents: We met two other tenants at their request in their flats. During the visit the Manager made herself available to answer our supplementary questions. She also supported the tenants we met in the lounge by encouraging them to give their views and providing them with refreshments. The tenants appeared to be alert and interested and were properly dressed and groomed. During our discussions with the residents we noticed that the staff spoke to the tenants appropriately and in a kind manner, and were tactful when it came to helping them use the toilet.
We made three recommendations based on our visits:
- Clearer signage should be provided for the front door intercom and the noticeboard should be tidied regularly to ensure notices can be read easily.
- The landlord, Metropolitan Housing Trust, should give consideration to finding a more efficient and cost effective alternative to fan heaters as emergency spot heating when the unified system breaks down.
- Consideration should be given to providing an easy to read clock and calendar with both day and date displays in the communal area to help orientate residents. All signs should include pictures and words.
The visiting team found that tenants living at Lingham Court are safe and appear satisfied with the care they receive, and most relatives who gave us feedback agree. However, specific comments and observations suggest that a review of staff skills and some care packages would be beneficial.