Decoy Farm My Views Matter report March 2023

Part of Healthwatch Norfolk’s work programme is to carry out Enter and View visits to health and social care services, to see and hear how people experience care. The visits are carried out by our authorised representatives. We can make recommendations or suggest ideas where we see areas for improvement.

Enter and View visits can happen if people tell us there is a problem with a service. Equally they can occur when services have a good reputation, so we can learn about and share examples of what they do well from the perspective of people who experience the service first hand.

From September 2022 – March 2023, our Enter and View visits will be part of a project called ‘My Views Matter’. This project is specifically focused on residential and in-patient care for people with learning disabilities and autistic people in Norfolk. We are implementing this project in response to the tragic events at Cawston Park, in which three residents with learning disabilities died between 2018 and 2020. One of the key findings from the Safeguarding Adults Review was that residents and their families were not being listened to.

My Views Matter will involve visiting around 20 residential homes across Norfolk to find out what people with learning disabilities and autistic people, and their families, want from their residential care. It will also investigate whether residents’ and their families’ views are being taken into account in how care is delivered.

Alongside the Enter and View visits to homes, we are also interviewing family members and professionals in the sector and organizing focus groups with care home residents outside their homes. The project is being implemented with the assistance of About with Friends, NANSA (Norfolk and Norwich SEND Association) and Opening Doors.

A final report from this project, which will report on data from across the county, will be published in May 2023.

We visited Decoy Farm on 22/11/2022, and the visit was announced in advance, in order to minimise disruption to the residents. We spent around two hours talking to residents and staff, and observing life in the home on that afternoon, and examining the building and its facilities. Shortly after the visit, we interviewed the family member of one resident about their relative’s care. In total, we spoke to two of the nine residents, and spoke to five staff, including the manager.

During this Enter and View visit we focused on what residents thought about their care, and the degree to which they were being listened to by the home staff. We considered the following themes, with the following findings:

Voice choice and personalisation: People at Decoy Farm had ample chance to have their views heard through monthly residents’ meetings, as well as through regular one-to-one consultation between staff and residents. The
family member we spoke to was very happy with how staff responded to their requests.

Premises: The premises were undergoing extensive renovations when we visited, and will provide excellent facilities once this work is complete. We also saw that people’s bedrooms were well personalised, and there are plans to personalise communal spaces further. The home also provides new facilities in response to residents’ requests.

Activities: The relatively high level of one-to-one support provided for people allowed them to go on regular outings of their choice. There was also a good range of activities to choose from inside the home, which people talked about enthusiastically.

Relationships and community: There was a real feeling of togetherness when we visited, and the home’s efforts to support this through their staffing arrangements seemed to have paid off. Some residents seemed to have
close friendships with one another, and staff helped them to spend time with their families. People also made regular outings into the local community.

Food and health: The people we spoke to both said that they liked the food at Decoy Farm, and they were regularly consulted about what they wanted to eat. They were offered healthy options, and were encouraged to exercise

Relations with the broader health and social care system: After a difficult period for the home due to a high staff turnover, good relations are being re-established with NCC and the CQC. Staff reported some concerns to us
about the extent of specialised expertise amongst some inspection staff, and questioned some of the CQC’s rules on the registration of new residential services for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.

Overall, Decoy Farm seems to be an important service providing specialised care that can help to keep people with distressed behaviour out of secure units sustainably. After a period of instability due to high staff turnover, the service
now seems to be re-establishing some stability and to be delivering responsive and personalised care in a pleasant and well-equipped setting.

I had always felt that I was accepted by the staff and I was trusted by the staff.

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